Ojore Berkeley at the 2021 AAU Junior Olympic Games. (Photos courtesy of Laura Berkeley)

An eight-year-old student at Heards Ferry Elementary School earned four medals at the 2021 AAU Junior Olympic Games, according to his parents.

Ojore Berkeley competed as a swimmer in the competition held in Houston, Texas, said Laura Berkeley in an email. He earned second place in freestyle, third place in backstroke, third place in butterfly and fourth place in breaststroke, she said.

“He had a great time, and we couldn’t be prouder!” Laura Berkeley said in the email. She added that Ojore also excels academically, as he’s been a member of Mensa since he was six. He’s also a chess champion, she said. “He is smashing stereotypes that suggest you can’t be an athlete and an intellectual.”

Reporter Newspapers asked Ojore’s father and coach, Dalero Berkeley, a few questions:

How proud are you that he was able to earn four medals at the Junior Olympics?

“Totally proud of him. This was part of his summer effort focused on sports and academics. This summer he competed in the Junior Olympics [and] the ASA Swimming Championship at Georgia Tech. He competed in East Side Baseball tournaments. [He] performed ninth-grade math. He finished his fifth-grade math book although he is now going into third grade. As a result of all of those activities, he collected two gold medals, three silver medals, three bronze medals, a fourth-place medal, three baseball trophies, two rings and more that 10 first-place ribbons. He is also an exceptional chess player winning the kindergarten, first and second-grade chess championship for Heards Ferry and the Kids Chess Crazy House Championship for the past semester. This summer, he beat his personal best (Level 18) in his chess game for the first time.

Could I hear more about his involvement with Mensa? When did you first know that Ojore had a special gift?

“We knew he was gifted when he was less than one year old when he displayed a photographic memory. He also displayed an affinity for math and logic when he was one year old. After that, his vocabulary grew at an astounding rate, and he displayed an amazing gift for conversation with adults starting at two years old. By three years old, he knew how to do multiplication and was starting division by four. He is now in the gifted program at school.”

Is there anything you could share about his personality and determination?

“Ojore also has an amazing amount of energy. He swims for two hours a day and has energy to spare. He is just an all-around exceptional kid who loves and lives life to the fullest. He has a heart for people and loves getting to know new people and helping wherever he can. He is always eager to learn and try something new. I have never known a more curious kid. He thrives on learning anything and everything about the people and world around him.”

Amy Wenk

Amy Wenk was editor of Reporter Newspapers in 2021-22.