Eric Weinrich has always wanted to get back to the Olympics, just to experience all he missed the first time around.

So he was overjoyed to learn Thursday that the Games may be coming to him.

Boston is in the running to host the 2024 Summer Olympics and for Weinrich, who grew up in Gardiner and was on the U.S. hockey team that competed in the 1988 Calgary Games, that could mean the fulfillment of a second dream.

“Being in the Olympics is an awesome honor,” he said, “but you’re pretty focused on what you’re doing. I really feel like I missed out on the whole Olympic feeling of experiencing what other sports and events are like.

“I watch the Olympics 24 hours a day when they’re on TV. But I’ve always wanted to go back in person, to see all these athletes, mostly amateurs, and what they go through, all the training they do for maybe a minute and a half of competition that’s going to define their lives.”

Boston will find out in 2017 if it will be the first U.S. city to host a Summer Olympics since Atlanta in 1996.

Kate Hall is hoping to be there, in a U.S. track and field uniform. The Lake Region High senior, who holds state records in six events and landed a scholarship to Iowa State, will be 27 in the summer of 2024. That’s a prime competitive age for a gifted long jumper like Hall.

“I’m trying to take things one step at a time,” she said. “Nine years from now is a long time, but it’s that much more time to get better and hopefully get the opportunity to go to the Olympics.

“I was overjoyed when I realized they could be in Boston because it would be an honor for all Americans and New England residents, whether participants in the Olympics or not, to experience the 2024 Olympics in our own country.”

No Mainer is more associated with the Olympics than Joan Benoit Samuelson. She won the inaugural women’s marathon at the 1984 Games in Los Angeles, the city that was expected by many to claim the U.S. bid to host again in 2024. Boston, without the built-in infrastructure that Los Angeles has, was a mild surprise to carry the banner for America in U.S. Olympic Committee voting Thursday.

Samuelson, also a former winner of the Boston Marathon, has been involved in that city’s efforts to lure the Games and is excited by the possibility.

“1984 and 2024 have sort of a special alignment,” the Cape Elizabeth native said. “Boston has such a storied history. It’s a very educated and savvy crowd as it relates to sport and everything that sport touches. If they can host larger-than-life events, if you will, meaning the World Series at Fenway Park, the Boston Marathon for 120 years, and the Head of the Charles (rowing regatta), I think they’re up to the task. It’s the can-do spirit that is so much in alignment with the Olympic spirit.”

Julia Clukey, a 2010 Olympic luger from Augusta, took a break from preparing for a race in Germany on Friday to echo her enthusiasm.

“Boston is a sister city to Maine, so to think that the Olympics could be so close to home is icing on the cake,” she wrote in an email. “Sustainability is becoming more of a priority to the Olympic movement, so I am most interested in Boston’s plan on how they can integrate the many venues already within the surrounding areas to be used for the Olympics and the years following.

“The only thing that would make this better is if it were a bid for a Winter Games :).”

Peter Carlisle of South Portland, the managing director of the Olympics and Action Sports division of the Octagon sports agency, believes bringing the world’s biggest competition to New England, especially with its years of buildup, will have a profound impact on summer and winter sports in Maine. Interest will spike, and with it the number of youths looking to participate in Olympic sports, he said.

“If you looked at the different host regions and then take it out 10-20 years and look at the representation of athletes from that region at the world-class level, I’d bet anything that you’d find a measurable increase,” said Carlisle, who represents many Olympians, including swimmer Michael Phelps. “Between now and 2017 it will be a huge topic of conversation. There’s going to be a lot of activity around that topic. If Boston does get the Games, then you’ve got another seven years of unbelievable activity. At the end of the day, the sports that comprise the Olympics end up being hugely relevant to a large group of people, not just summer, but winter.

“It will make such an impression and it’s such a unique global event. And that will involve greater Portland, I can guarantee you. Visitors will experience a lot of New England, not just Boston, and it’s an awesome opportunity to promote the area.”

The closest the Olympics have come to Maine was Montreal in 1976.

Weinrich, who lives in Yarmouth and scouts for the Buffalo Sabres, said anyone who hasn’t experienced the Games should take the opportunity to go if they end up such a short drive away.

“It’s a great event because no matter who’s competing, everyone is cheering them on if they have a chance to break a world record or win a gold medal,” he said. “It’s an event that brings everybody together, and you put aside your differences and just focus on the sport.”

— Staff Writer Deirdre Fleming contributed to this story