A cool article written by a fellow Ivy track guy who is pursuing the skeleton for the 2014 Olympics. He is also affiliated with my sponsor from last year, the US Athletic Trust.
OK. Maybe the title of this post is misleading. And maybe this has nothing to do with track and field. And maybe this is a link to a link of my facebook post, but hey, I just finished training and I'm tired. But I do think that I mentioned hurdling.... Check it out.
IGUANA CHASING WIN
10 Second workout video from my new training home in the Florida Keys. Not a great training setup but it gets the job done for fall training,
The Olympics were a very interesting experience. I approached it knowing only what I knew from NBC coverage of past Olympics and advice from a few former Olympians. My goal was to approach the Olympics like I approach any meet; throw as far as possible. I am not sure that I could have ever been fully prepared for what I was about to encounter.
I was one of the first athletes to arrive in London (two weeks prior to the opening ceremony), and the press was waiting at the baggage claim. TV cameras, reporters, photographers; it was more like the red carpet than an airport. As a U.S. athlete, they were excited to talk. I gave a few interviews and then headed to the Village to get situated. After registration in the Village, the U.S. T&F athletes headed up to Birmingham where our training camp was located. Four star hotel, excellent food and accommodations, full training staff of PTs, masseuses, chiros, and training at Alexander Stadium (Diamond League facility). Needless to say, TRAINING CAMP ROCKED!
Being on Team USA was a huge advantage. I was able to completely overcome my star-struckedness well before the competition by living and training with the best team in the world. Rooming with Jason Young, flying RC helicopters with Reese Hoffa, ping pong tournament with Wallace Spearmon and Doc Patton, posing on the red carpet of the Lorax with Jesse Williams, and quoting 1990's children's educational commercials (Books, CHECK EM OUT) with Jarred Rome were both fun and beneficial for my competition psyche. Even world champions fly remote control helicopters, U.S. champions still trip over their shoelaces when they don't tie them, sub 10 second 100m and sub 20 second 200m guys can get whooped at ping pong! Even the best athletes put their pants on one leg at a time.
After two weeks of the good life in Birmingham we traveled back down to the Village. The excitement of the Village is sometimes draining. After three meals plus training in the afternoon I was spent. Every day, all I did was eat, sleep, and train. And I was still tired. Each meal was like a giant game of memory. The dining hall was about 150m long and 100m wide and filled with people and food from every corner of the earth. I wanted to see all of my options before deciding, so I would walk all over the place and try to remember what I wanted from the hundreds of choices. After a rendezvous at the chosen table with my teammates, a phrase that would inevitably be said was, "@%$, where did you find that?!"
I had been training incredibly well in Birmingham, however I found it more difficult to keep my groove in London. The excitement and stress were difficult to handle. The week passed slowly, with stressful anticipation. I just wanted to compete. I was incredibly relieved the day of competition, if only because the wait was over.
Since I began my track career in high school, every time I competed in a bigger meet than I had before, I felt out of my element, but managed to compete and perform well. My freshman year of college I threw 189 at the East Region (back when there were four regions) and placed 17th. As I watched the final, I knew that the I could compete with the top dogs who were throwing in the 220s. I was able to see that these guys throwing 220 were people just like me, not some invincible gods launching spears impossible distances. The only guy who still seemed untouchable to me after watching the final was Chris Hill, who had just demolished the field by 30 feet (255). The next year I took second to Chris at Regionals, and that year at Nationals I finally got to see the west coast guys in person. While they had big PR's and went to big state schools with high powered track programs, in person they were just dudes who threw javelin. I took third, and knew I would not be standing below anyone on the podium the next year. I won NCAAs in 2010 and took third at the U.S. Nationals, where I was intimidated by the professionals, who again just turned out to be dudes who threw the javelin rather than the unstoppable beast-monsters I expected.
As you might have guessed, my Olympic experience fell into the trend of my previous big (new) meet experiences. Tero Pitkamaki and Andreas Thorkildsen are dudes who throw the javelin. It is easy to deify them when all we see are their highlights on Youtube. These videos make us believe that they always throw 90m, and bench 400lbs every workout. In reality they struggle with the same things that we do, like tripping over the rail and trying to take off their warmups when they have spikes on. The only way they put their pants on both legs at a time is if they balance on their butt on the floor.
Now after 8 weeks off its time to train again with my sights on being one of these "beast-monsters" on the podium at Moscow World Championships in August 2013.
I fly out of Newark airport on Sunday night. I hope they take my Jav on the plane! USATF has sent us so much gear, I don't know how I'll wear all of it. The USOC gear will be waiting for us in London. Once I arrive, I check in with the team and then head up to the training center in Birmingham. The fully equipped, newly renovated stadium give us the opportunity to train in relative peace and quiet, away from the excitement in London. I'll spend 10 days in Birmingham training and getting accustomed to the time change and culture, before heading to the Athlete Village in London. A little over a week in the village, and it's SHOWTIME! Prelim on August 8th where they will cut the field down from 36 to 12. Final on the 11th where they hand out the hardwear!
So I made the team. I AM AN OLYMPIAN!!! In the prelims, I was looking to advance to the final (field is cut from 24 down to 12) on my first throw, but it ended up taking two. My goal was to be technically sound, but save the intensity for Day 2. My first throw was 74.03m. I wasn't confident that 74 would make finals, so I hit 77.54m on my second. With the A standard in the bag from Chicago a couple weeks ago, I had the luxury of sitting back and relaxing while the rest of the field minus Cyrus, Sean and myself, chased it. I qualified in 4th position going into Day 2.
Despite the cold and the rain on Day 2, I was ready to go. I knew I had some big throws in me, and the weather conditions actually favored me. I throw in the cold and rain all the time, thank you Providence. Sam Humphreys made it clear that he was on a mission for the A standard. He launched throw after throw over his PR and broke the 80m barrier multiple times. My series through the first five throws was 74.30, 78.04, 77.45, 75.98, 79.79. I was second going into the last round when Sam Crouser smashed his previous PR and hit 80.80, moving him into second behind only Sam Humphreys. On my last attempt I gave it everything I had, but wasn't able to line everything up and finished with 79.92. I took third, but was the top qualifier with the A standard. Sam Humphreys took the top spot but missed the A standard by 5 inches. With the top two spots not achieving the standard, the top three throwers with the A standard (Myself, Sean, Cyrus) will be representing Team USA in London.
The victory lap had me waving the American flag like crazy and crying in front of 30,000 people. Tom Pukstys had previously described the feeling of making the team as "a firework in your brain" and he wasn't far off. The raw emotion of the moment and the victory lap was overwhelming.
I want to thank everyone who has helped me get to this point. Family, friends, coaches, and the USAT. This is only a stepping stone towards a larger goal. A goal that is close and real. I will be ready to compete at my best in London for myself, my family, my town, and my country!
Tom Pukstys (Olympic Throws Coach for 2012) and Alex Heacock put on a sweet throwers’ meet at Benedictine University in Naperville Illinois. After monster throw/PR/Olympic A-Standard on his third attempt (82.73), 2009 World Championships finalist Sean Furey got in my face with some technical/emotional/patriotic shouting and got me going like it was nobody’s business. I hit 82.31 on my next throw for a 4+ meter PR. First PR in two years (102 weeks, but who's counting?) and the Olympic A-Standard! MAN did it feel good. Almost gave myself a heart attack from yelling after hearing the mark, then shed a few tears and tried to compose myself for the next throw. Twas a good day. The next day I spent lounging at Tom's cousins place riding four-wheelers, swimming and eating copious amounts of GREAT food. Can't thank Tom and his wife Anne enough for the hospitality. It was one hell of a weekend. My PR is at 4:02 on the video below.