COLUMBIA — Eight-year-old Josh Larkins said he tries to run track like The Flash and throw a shot put ball like The Hulk.
Those are his favorite superheroes.
"I like The Flash because he runs fast," Josh said. "The Hulk can pick stuff up and throw it all over."
Recently, Josh has been a superhero in his own right.
He won the Amateur Athletic Union Junior Olympic Games National Championship for shot put last weekend in the boys' 4 pound, 8-and-under division. Josh won with a throw of 26 feet, 10.5 inches.
Even though he is a national champion shot putter, other aspects of his life are quite common for an 8 year old.
Josh said he likes being outside with his friends and 10-year-old brother, Isaiah, riding bikes, skateboarding and shooting Nerf guns with the neighbors.
He also likes playing video games, like "Minecraft," "Halo" and "Batman and The Flash: Hero Run" for the Kindle.
"Sometimes when we are at our friends, we play Halo," he said. "One time my friend had to be the alien and we had to go against him and I dominated him."
His mother, Trina Larkins-Brown, said the whole family couldn't make it to the championships last weekend at Drake University in Des Moines.
But Josh's stepfather and brother came to cheer him on — his three other siblings are grown.
Once it was apparent that he had a chance at winning first place in the shot put event, his teammates from the Columbia Blue Thunder Track Club began to cheer him on to victory.
"He was very excited about winning," his mother said. "I think he felt a little bit of pressure to win, but he has a pretty good poker face, so he kind of acted like it wasn't a big deal. When he actually won, he asked me when we we're going to throw him a party. It was like he was a celebrity."
Josh has only competed in track and shot put events with Blue Thunder since April. He sprints in the 100- and 200-meter dashes.
"He's a real natural talent," Larkins-Brown said."I was a little surprised (he won first place) because you don't know what to expect, but it wasn't because I didn't think he could do it."
She said she put him in track to help him stay in shape for other sports.
"He's very good at soccer as well, but he was getting winded a lot," she said. "I thought track is the perfect sport to condition you for every other sport. When I actually put him in it, he not only enjoyed track, but he ended up being good at it."
His mother also said that the training is for a possible track scholarship in the future. Josh is a big Missouri Tigers fan, and that possibly could be an option as he gets older, she said.
He begins school at Fairview Elementary on Aug. 20 and will continue to run and throw for Blue Thunder throughout the school year.
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