Proving them wrong
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My career has had a lot of ups and downs. I rode out the lows because I saw potential in myself. I saw that God has given me a talent and I should be the best version of me that I can be.
This doesn’t mean I haven’t doubted myself or my ability. As a javelin thrower you make very little money, you train hard, and endure lots of physical pain and hardship; you end up doubting yourself every year and question why you should continue. But I always saw more in myself.
Two years ago I sought the best place to achieve my potential, and that was the Olympic Training Center near San Diego. The center is for athletes that are Olympic caliber but may not have the funds, coaches, or facilities to continue in the sport.
It provides free housing, free food, free medical, free massage, free training facilities, and some paid travel. But it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. Free housing is in a dorm room with a twin bed and small bathroom, which you share with another athlete. The dorm suite has a common living room and two more athletes living in another room.
When I arrived, at 28 years old, it was like college days all over again. It was less than ideal, but even this less than ideal living situation was better than the alternatives.
After one year I was removed from the program.
Self-proclaimed “Mr. Moneyball” Duffy Mahoney of the USATF said that my athlete profile does not statistically put me on a rising trend. I am too old and not good enough to be at the Olympic Training center. I simply have a 0% chance of winning an Olympic medal and therefore USATF does not wish to support me any longer.
It’s not the first time in the sport someone has told me I am (more or less) worthless. And in his defense I competed poorly in 2015; I was struggling to recover from a torn rotator cuff and labrum. But I never gave up in 2015, because I knew I could do more.
Mahoney then told me to, “Put your money where my mouth is.” I was able to continue to train at the Olympic Training Center if I paid $200 a month for facility use. I could continue to train with my training partners but medical, massage, and food was all going to cost extra.
To say I was bitter is an understatement. Of the 22 track and field athletes at OLYMPIC Training Center 6 are OLYMPIANS, and I was being cut.
So I did the only thing I knew how to do. I persevered.
I didn’t stop training. I trained all summer long. I got a house a mile away from the training center and started cooking all my own meals (I love to cook!). I worked for trade with a massage therapist Joshua Mack (his website is coming soon). I was going to do everything in my power to make the Olympics this year.
I came into the Olympic Trials with a chip on my shoulder; with something to prove. I was one of three athletes with the Olympic Standard. If no other athletes hit the standard then the three of us could place in any position and make the Olympic Team. But I wanted more.
Due to the same circumstances in 2012 I placed fifth and still made the Olympic Team. It was bittersweet. And that’s not how I wanted to make the team.
This year I wanted no one to question if I deserved to make the Olympic Team.
I started slow in finals. I dropped to third place in the first round after Curtis Thompson dropped a bomb in the stadium (82.88m – 271’11”).
My heart sank; that was the throw that would win it. I quickly reminded myself that Thompson throwing 82.88m didn’t change my potential to throw farther than him.
I struggled to hold positions, but managed to inch my way forward. I threw 77.95m in the fourth round putting me 11cm out of second place.
In the fifth round I finally did what I set out to do. I dropped my own bomb on the crowd. I threw 83.24m (273’1”) to capture the lead.
I won the Olympic Trials. I set the Olympic Trials meet record. And I made my second Olympic Team in an undisputed fashion. (see full results)
I proved so many people wrong; including Mr. Moneyball.
Some people have told me it’s the ultimate F— you to USATF for not supporting me. But in reality I think it’s what they wanted all along. I proved them wrong, but they got the performance they wanted without supporting me a dime. Talk about return on investment!
But I didn’t do it to prove them wrong. I didn’t do it for anyone. I did it for myself. I did it because I saw my potential. I didn’t need anyone to tell me what I am worth. I did it because I wanted it, I worked hard for it, and I deserved it.
Moral of the story: Don’t listen to the doubters; there will be plenty on your road to success. See your own worth, and strive to be the best version of you. If you give up now you will never achieve your true potential.
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