By Tim Graham
PITTSFORD -- Nick Mangold might not be the only AFC East player to break away from training camp to watch his little sister compete in the 2016 Olympics.
Buffalo Bills receiver T.J. Graham said with conviction this morning his sister Ariah will run the 400 meters at the Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, and he plans on being there to witness it.
"She's the beast of the family," T.J. Graham said. "I'm nobody."
Ariah Graham is the reigning junior national champion in the indoor 400 meters. She will attend North Carolina State, her brother's alma mater, this fall. T.J. Graham was watching her run in the prestigious Penn Relays the day the Buffalo Bills drafted him.
The Graham family tree might as well have been planted in a track's infield. As detailed in a story for The Buffalo News and on a Press Coverage blog last week, their father is internationally known track coach and 1988 Jamaican silver medalist Trevor Graham, and their mother is college All-American and accomplished prep coach Ann Graham.
T.J. and Ariah Graham can declare either the U.S. or Jamaica as their homeland for international competition.
One of Trevor Graham's former pupils, Justin Gatlin, won bronze in the 100 meters Sunday. T.J. Graham considers Gatlin his big brother and emulates his running style. T.J. Graham was competitive in high school against U.S. sprinter Ryan Bailey, who finished fifth.
T.J. Graham, on the phone with his parents while driving, listened on speaker phone to a live internet stream of the 100 meters.
Jamaicans Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake finished first and second. One of T.J. Graham's predictions was close. He forecasted the podium would hold Bolt first, American Tyson Gay second and Gatlin third.
"I wanted Gatlin to do better, of course," T.J. Graham said. "But I had to be realistic when I gave you my prediction. As half-Jamaican, I can be a fair-weathered fan and say 'Go Jamaica.' "