Kibwé Johnson's first international meet for the United States was the 2007 Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
It seems like a long time ago - in part because of how far Johnson has come.
Johnson, who trains in Kamloops, is scheduled to compete in the hammer throw at the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico, next week. The multisport event, which opened Friday, features some 6,000 athletes in an Olympic-style competition.
Johnson has blossomed into a medal threat for the 2012 Olympics in London, but he hasn't forgotten his first meet in the red, white and blue. He threw 73.23 metres for silver, a far cry from his latest personal best of 80.31m.
"That was my first national team ever," Johnson said. "I got second . . . but I don't want second this time."
Johnson has worked hard throughout the season to become one of the world's top male hammer throwers, and will have another chance to show that when he throws at the Pan Am Games on Oct. 26.
He is one of five Kamloops-based athletes scheduled to compete in the Games - female hammer throwers Sultana Frizell and Crystal Smith will represent Canada, as will shot putter Dylan Armstrong, while Michael Letterlough will throw hammer for the Cayman Islands.
All five of these athletes also competed at the 2007 Games. Armstrong, who finished second at the world championships last month, won gold in Rio, while Smith and Frizell finished sixth and seventh. Letterlough was 13th in the men's hammer.
Frizell, who threw 63.25m in Rio and now holds the Canadian record (72.74m), isn't going to Guadalajara with small goals.
"I definitely want to medal," said the native of Perth, Ont. "There's going to be hard competition coming out of Cuba, the States and Argentina . . . it's going to be a fight."
The women's hammer throw competition is Monday.
It should be an interesting few days for Johnson and Smith, who are married but will be separated during the Games.
The American and Canadian teams will be staying apart for the competition.
"Everyone stays with their delegations, but it's all on the same grounds, so we'll be able to see each other," Johnson said. "The last team we made together was Pan American Games in 2007, and that was fun."
Johnson will leave Kamloops on Saturday, before a team-processing meeting in Houston. One of the things the Americans will discuss is safety - a drug war continues to rage in parts of Mexico, so you can bet the organizing committees are making sure the athletes are safe.
"I don't think that area is quite as bad, so I'm sure it will be fine," Johnson said. "They wouldn't have that competition there if it wasn't. There'll be a lot of security."
Johnson should be used to it, especially after the American team was embroiled in a controversy in Rio.
Someone wrote "Welcome to the Congo!" on a white board in the American media centre before the Games, a photo of which appeared in a major daily newspaper in Rio. Brazilians were furious, and anti-Americanism raged throughout the Games.
"They were rolling heavy security in Rio, especially for the U.S. team," Johnson said. "I imagine it will be the same, if not more, because of the situation in Mexico."