Detroit Lions quarterback David Blough was so engrossed in watching a heat in the women's 400 meters hurdles in the Tokyo Olympics Friday evening that he didn't realize he had company.
Blough's laser focus was understandable.
The athlete he was focused on was his wife, Melissa Gonzalez. She finished second in her heat, posting a personal best of 55.35 seconds to advance to the semifinals Monday morning (Detroit time).
Blough watched Melissa's heat in the large auditorium in the Lions' Allen Park headquarters, which is used for meetings with the full team and coaching staff.
Only a couple teammates and a video staff member were in the team room when the heat started. Unknown to Blough, head coach Dan Campbell had alerted the team and staff that Melissa would be running the race.
Blough was intent on watching the race. He encouraged his wife with shouts of "Go Mel!!" and didn't realize how much company he had.
He realized it when he gave two big fist pumps when Melissa crossed the finish line in second place, thus securing a spot in the semifinals that goes automatically to the first four finishers in each of the five heats.
He finished the second fist pump with such force that he spun around and faced his cheering teammates and coaches who had filled the team room undetected by Blough.
The room exploded in cheers when Melissa crossed the finish line.
"It was outstanding man," Campbell said. "It was so good. To watch her run it was pretty cool."
The emotion that spilled out of Bough was unfiltered.
"That's my raw emotion, whether it's the first round of Olympics or at Tyler Community college in Texas," Blough said after Saturday's training camp practice. "I turn around and see them. It made us feel loved. That's what it's all about.
"This is a family we're trying to build to. It was very special."
Melissa is competing on the Colombian team. Her father, Hector, was born in Colombia. She is a U.S. citizen, with dual citizenship. She qualified for the Olympics based on her position in the world rankings.
David and Melissa both grew up in Texas and have had a long relationship. David played quarterback at Purdue and entered the NFL with Cleveland in 2019 as an undrafted free agent. He was traded to the Lions after the 2019 preseason and started five games for the Lions after season-ending injuries sustained by starter Matthew Stafford and backup Jeff Driskel.
Melissa is going through her standard routine of rest and training to get ready for the semifinals, Blough said. There is a difference of 11 hours between the time in Tokyo and Detroit. She's also enjoying the experience of meeting athletes from other countries.
"She's sleeping and hopefully will sleep in to adjust to the 8:30 P.M. start on Monday in Tokyo," Blough said. "She gets to line up and do it again."
Qualifying for the Olympics, and then advancing to the semifinals, enhances Melissa's standing in the world track and field scene.
"As a little girl who grew up watching track and dreaming about the Olympics, it's a little bit of heaven," Blough said. "Every time that time (in a race) keeps dropping, it definitely opens doors. She worked incredibly hard to get where she's at. She's world class. She is."