ROXBURY, NJ – A Roxbury boy is making a name for himself in the world of sport stacking, having won two gold medals at last month’s AAU Junior Olympics in Detroit, where he also broke the national record in his age group.
Sport stacking is a timed competition in which competitors stack plastic cups, in various combinations, at blazing speeds.
Eight-year-old Aiden Mulholland completed the 3-6-3 stack in 2.196 seconds at the Junior Olympics, smashing the prior record for his age group: 2.319 seconds, set in 2013. For that, Mulholland was awarded a gold medal.
Mulholland, who is entering fifth grade at Franklin School this fall, also took first place – and another gold medal in his age group - for the 3-3-3 stack, blowing through the challenge in 1,925 seconds.
“He was introduced to this in gym class in school,” said Mulholland’s mother, Jennifer. “It was something he really liked. He came home and said, ‘Mom, can you buy me one of these sport stacking sets?’”
Many youngsters give sport stacking a try and eventually put the cups and timers in a closet. That’s not the way Aiden operates, said his mom. She said her son has an unstoppable drive to master activities he enjoys and will relentlessly practice and push himself.
“He just has more drive in his pinky than I do in my entire body,” she said. “When he has something in his head, his drive is insane. He will practice that from morning to night and he’s like that [with] everything.”
She said Aiden is showing similar determination about soccer and wants to try-out for a travel team. When he was five years old, the boy would press his mother to repeatedly test him in math, Mulholland said.
“Without sounding like THAT mom, there’s just something about this kid,” she added.
Aiden’s trip to the Junior Olympics includes a bit of serendipity. Mulholland said she and her husband, Sean, took the boy to a sport stacking tournament at the Jersey Shore mainly because he was bugging them about it.
“Mom of the Year here,” she said. “I just took him to the tournament to shut him up because he kept saying, ‘I want to compete. I want to compete.’”
As it turned ou,t Aiden took first place at the tournament, recording a score that qualified him for the Junior Olympics. “I remember feeling so guilty,” said his mother.
The Mulhollands treated the trek to Detroit as a road-trip vacation, stopping at attractions along the way and taking Aiden and his 10-year-old and 14-year-old brothers to a water park. That was fun, but Aiden – as usual – got serious when it came time to compete; a determination that paid off, not only with the two gold medals but also with a silver and a bronze.
One thing Aiden's performance didn’t do is turn the polite youngster into a boaster, said his mother.
“I’ve got to say, I was really, really impressed because he was very, very humble,” she said. “After he won … my husband and I were making a massive big deal over it. When we were in an elevator a woman asked Aiden ‘How did you do?’ I would have been bragging about it. But he looked at her and just said, ‘I did well, thank you.’”