PAOLA — Miami County commissioners recently recognized Olympians Derrick Mein and Bubba Starling, who represented the county in the 2021 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
Mein grew up in southeast Kansas and lives in Paola. He competed on the shooting sports team for the United States. Mein was recognized during a commission meeting Wednesday, Sept. 8.
Starling graduated from Gardner-Edgerton High School and was a first-round draft pick by the Kansas City Royals in 2011. He played outfield for the United States Olympic Baseball Team that won silver in Tokyo. Starling was honored Wednesday, Sept. 15.
Miami County is celebrating its 160th anniversary and, until 2021, never had anyone from the county competed in the Olympic Games.
This year, with two Olympians in the games, the county wanted to make sure they were recognized, Miami County Commissioner Rob Roberts said.
“Thank you guys for having me here,” Mein said. “I’ll tell you the same thing I tell everyone.
“It’s an honor to not only represent this great country but I feel I get to represent the greatest people on the planet,” he said. “I grew up not too far from here. I went to high school in Girard.”
The Kansas City Royals reached out to Starling about representing the United States in the Olympic Games.
“Our assistant GM with the Royals came to me in May and said, ‘Hey, they’re interested in you going to Tokyo to play for the USA team,’” Starling said. “Tokyo, that’s pretty far away. But how many times to you get asked to be an Olympian?”
Starling said he talked with his family and his fiancée, and they encouraged him to go. He knew it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
In the third inning of that third game, Starling said he received a concussion.
“I didn’t get to finish playing because of concussion protocols but cheered the rest of the guys on and ended up getting that silver medal,” Starling said. “It was fun.”