RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Olympic hurdler Kristi Castlin used the occasion of her bronze-medal performance to speak out about gun violence.
Castlin's father was murdered when she was 12 by someone who broke into the hotel he managed and demanded money. She also attended Virginia Tech at the time of the 2007 massacre that killed nearly three dozen people.
After a race in which she, Nia Ali and Brianna Rollins completed a first-ever American sweep of the medals in the 100-meter hurdles, Castlin used her platform to discuss a topic that has affected her deeply.
"I've been around a lot of gun violence in my life," Castlin said. "Not just Americans, but all over the world, we're always touched by gun violence, always touched by tragedy. It feels good to be an example, not just for Americans but families all over the world."
Ali has been affected by gun violence, too.
In 2009, Ali's father, Aleem, a supervisor in the Philadelphia Department of Human Services, walked up to a car and shot his ex-girlfriend to death, then killed himself.
Nia Ali found out what happened over the phone from her uncle.
"It was just a shock, disbelief. Almost surreal," Ali said in a recent interview with The Associated Press. "It took me a while to process."
She took some time off from track to focus on what was important — family, school, friends and building relationships.
"My family is really supportive. They're my backbone and keep me going," said Ali, a psychology major while at Southern California. "It was definitely a test to what I could really handle — what my purpose in life would be."