Another Olympic Trials, another Olympic berth for Renton native Aretha Thurmond.
Thurmond qualified for her fourth Olympic games by taking second at the Olympic Trials June 24.
“After it was over I felt a little more relieved because this is the world’s hardest team to make,” Thurmond said. “You want to spend the whole year training for the Olympics, but you have to get through the Trials first.”
Her throw of 62.23 meters at the trials was short only of Stephanie Brown Trafton’s 65.18 meters. Brown Trafton won the gold medal in Beijing four years ago.
“It was good, nice and consistent,” she said. “We had a game plan going in and it was just about going out and executing the technique. This wasn’t my first time.”
Even after qualifying for her fourth games, Thurmond isn’t able to sit back and enjoy the moment. There’s still work to be done.
“I don’t think it’s really sunk in yet only because I’m still in work mode,” she said. “I need to stay hungry and keep training. I’ll have time to celebrate the Trials after the Olympics.”
Thurmond attended Renton High School and won state discus titles in 1992, 1993 and 1994. She also won a shot put title in 1994. She still holds the state meet record in discus. She went on to attend the University of Washington, where she was a four-time All-American, and two-time Pac-10 champion. She set the American Collegiate discus record of 215 feet, three inches in 1998.
Thurmond is the 16th U.S. woman to make four Olympics in track and field. She made the games in 1996, 2004 and 2008. She missed the Sydney games in 2000 by one spot.
She won gold medals at the Pan American Games in 1999 and 2003. Thurmond’s best finish at an Olympics is 19th, in 2004.
Thurmond will turn 36 less than two weeks after the Olympics, but she hasn’t made any plans for London to be her last go around.
“As long as I can stay competitive, I’ll keep throwing,” she said. “Right now, I’m competitive. I’m not going to put a clock on myself. After the first team, I didn’t know if there would be a second team. I’m just very blessed and fortunate to be going to a fourth Olympics.”
Thurmond lives in Auburn, Ala., where she trains full time. She still stays in contact with her friends and family in the Northwest, calling them her “extended family.” Keith Eager, her coach at Renton High, and his wife made the trip to Oregon to watch Thurmond qualify at the Olympic Trials.
The qualifying round of the women’s discus throw is Aug. 3 at 11:10 a.m. Pacific Standard Time. The final round is Aug. 4 at 11:30 a.m.