INDIANAPOLIS - Led by some of the world's most accomplished track and field athletes, Team USA's throwers are ready to challenge the world's best at the 2008 Olympic Games this month in Beijing, China.
The throws teams are led by twelve Olympic Games veterans and three American record holders in combination with a myriad of newcomers, putting the squad in a position to seize plenty of hardware in the shot put, hammer throw, discus throw, and javelin throw at the 2008 Olympic Games.
Reigning World Outdoor champion, Reese Hoffa (Athens, Ga.) will lead the U.S. in the men's shot put, following his winning throw at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials - Track & Field in Eugene, Ore. Hoffa obtained the title of Olympic Trials champion on his final throw, launching the shot put 22.10 meters/72 feet 6.25 inches, which is the second best throw in the world this season.
Two-time Olympic silver medalist, Adam Nelson (Charlottesville, Va.) has the farthest throw in the world this year, launching the ball to 22.12m/72-7 at the Nike Prefontaine Classic on June 8. In addition to his two Olympic silver medals, Nelson owns the 2005 World Outdoor title, three World Outdoor silver medals ('01, '03, '07), and the World Indoor silver medal in 2001.
Two-time World Indoor champion, Christian Cantwell (Columbia, Mo.) will look for redemption from 2004, when he failed to make the Olympic Team after a fourth place finish at the U.S. Trials. Cantwell currently holds the fourth farthest throw in the world in 2008 at 21.76m/71-4.75 set on May 10th in Modesto, Calif.
Among their individual fame and accolades, Hoffa, Nelson, and Cantwell, have earned the moniker of the big three in the world. They were ranked number1, 2 and 3 in the world in 2007 by Track & Field News. Of the top ten throws in the world in 2008, the big three have produced eight of them.
The Carter family legacy of excellence in the shot put will continue when Michelle Carter (Ovilla, Texas) takes her first throw at the Beijing Olympics. The 2008 Olympic Trials champion, Michelle Carter looks to follow in the footsteps of her father Michael Carter, who was the 1984 Olympic Games silver medalist and is well known for his 1979 national high school record throw of 81 feet 3.5 inches with the 12 pound shot put. Like her father, Michelle saw early success in the event, being a four-time Texas 4A state champion and setting the girls' National High School record of 16.73m/54-10.75 in 2003. Carter continued her success throughout her collegiate career, collecting four All-American honors during her tenure at the University of Texas.
Three-time USA Outdoor champion, Kristin Heaston (Opelika, Ala.) looks to translate her domestic success onto the international stage. Heaston competed in the qualifying rounds at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, but failed to move on to the final.
Rounding out the women's shot put squad is Jillian Camarena (Tucson, Ariz.), who finished third at the Olympic Trials, with a throw of 18.12m/59-5.5. This will be Camarena's first trip to the Olympic Games, although she finished third at the 2004 Olympic Trials, she failed to achieve the Olympic 'A' standard. Camarena has some power behind her puts, in 2007 she was ranked #1 in the U.S. by T&FN, and she owns the third farthest throw in U.S. history at 19.26m/63-2.25.
The trio is looking for the first Olympic medal for the U.S. in this event; the highest place of an American woman at the Olympic Games was fifth at the 1996 Olympic Games, by Connie Price-Smith.
Set to make his second Olympic Games appearance is 2008 Olympic Trials men's discus champion and two-time USA champion Ian Waltz (Chula Vista, Calif.). At the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Waltz threw 64.69m/212-3 but did not make the final.
Michael Robertson (Beebe, Ark.) looks to continue his success from 2007, when he became the USA Outdoor champion, the NCAA Outdoor champion, and earned a year's end #3 U.S. ranking. In 2008, Robertson has had a promising season with a throw of 63.73m/209-01 to collect runner-up at the Olympic Trials, plus a season's best and personal record throw of 65.61m/215-3.
Rounding out the men's discus throwers is Casey Malone (Fort Collins, Colo.), who will be making his second Olympic Games appearance after placing third at the Olympic Trials with a 62.67m/205-06 throw. Malone was sixth at the 2004 Olympic Games with a throw of 64.33m/211-0.
Leading the way in the women's discus is three-time Olympian Aretha Thurmond (Federal Way, Wash.). Thurmond secured her trip to Beijing by capturing the win at the Olympic Trials, throwing 65.20m/213-11, only thirteen months after giving birth to her son.
American record holder Suzy Powell-Roos (Modesto, Calif.) also will make her third Olympic appearance, after taking the runner-up position at the Olympic Trials. She enters Beijing with a season's best throw of 63.69m/208-11, achieved in Maui, Hawaii. In 2007, Powell-Roos was ranked #1 in the U.S., after setting an American record of 67.67m/222-0 in Maui.
Stephanie Brown-Trafton (Galt, Calif.) will make her second Olympic Games appearance when she steps into the ring on August 15, the opening day for track and field. Brown-Trafton currently holds the third best throw in the world, 66.17m/217-1, a personal best set in Salinas, Calif. She trails only world leader Darya Pischalnikova of Russia (67.28m/220-9) and Nicoleta Grasua of Romania (66.51m/218-2).
Two-time USA Outdoor champion, A.G. Kruger (Ashland, Ohio) will be the lone U.S. representative in the men's hammer throw after winning the Olympic Trials by more than 1 meter. In 2007, Kruger posted the top nine throws by an American, in addition to being ranked #1 in the U.S. in 2006 and 2007. He will compete in his second Olympic Games, entering with a season's best mark of 75.81m/248-09, set at the Olympic Trials.
Thee women's hammer will feature three up and coming U.S. athletes. Leading the way for the United States is Olympic Trials champion Jessica Cosby (Mission Hills, Calif.). In claiming her trip to Beijing, Cosby topped the Olympic Trials record, previously held by American record holder Erin Gilreath, with a throw of 70.72m/232-0.
Looking to make a big landing in the international scene is Olympic Trials runner-up Amber Campbell (Myrtle Beach, S.C.). Campbell qualified to her first Olympic team after throwing 69.24m/227-02 at the Olympic Trials. She enjoyed a successful collegiate career, accruing five NCAA All-American honors during her tenure at Coastal Carolina University. In 2007 she was ranked #4 in the United States by T&FN.
Rounding out the women's hammer throwers is Loree Smith (Eugene, Ore.), who finished fourth at the Olympic Trials, but made the team because the third place finisher lacked the Olympic Games 'A' standard. Set to compete in her first Olympic Games, Smith enters the competition with a season's best of 69.56m/228-2, set in Tucson, Ariz.
Olympic Trials runner-up Mike Hazle (Chula Vista, Calif.) secured his spot with his throw of 75.76m/248-07 in Eugene. In 2008, Hazle has produced six meets with throws over 80 meters, including his personal best of 82.21m/269-8 in Doha. Hazle was ranked #2 in the U.S. in 2007, and brought home a silver medal at the Pan Am Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Leigh Smith (Destrehan, La.) leads the U.S. competitors entering the Olympic Games, with his season's best throw of 83.74m/274-9 set in Athens, Ga. Although Smith finished fifth at the Olympic Trials, he was named to the roster as the other competitors lacked the Olympic 'A' standard. Smith was a three-time All-American at Tennessee.
American record holder Breaux Greer (Scottsdale, Ariz.), known to many as Hurricane, his character's name on American Gladiators, is set to compete in his third Olympic Games. Greer has established himself as one of the most dominant javelin throwers in U.S. history, as he has claimed the USA Outdoor Championship title every year from 2000 through 2007. In 2007, Greer set the American record of 91.29m/299-6 at the AT&T USA Outdoor Championships in Indianapolis, claimed the bronze medal at World Outdoors, tossed two of the top ten throws in the world, and was ranked #1 in the U.S. and #3 in the world by T&FN.
The women's javelin squad features American record holder Kim Kreiner (Fresno, Calif.) and newcomer Kara Patterson (West Lafayette, Ind.). The Olympic Trials champion, Patterson soared over the 200 foot mark at the Big Ten Championships, with the second farthest throw in U.S. history of 61.56m/202-0, only trailing behind American record holder Kreiner. Patterson capped off her collegiate season with a fifth place finish at the NCAA Outdoors.
Competing on her second Olympic team, Kreiner looks to improve upon her 2007 season, during which she set an American record of 64.19m/210-07 and was ranked #1 in the U.S. by T&FN. She was fourth at the Olympic Trials, but was named to the team as Dana Pounds and Rachel Yurkovich lacked the Olympic 'A' standard.
For more information about the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China visit www.usatf.org.