Thursday, June 28, 2012

Amanda Smock Goes to London as an Olympian in Search of a PR

Triple jumper Amanda Smock made her first Olympic team on Monday and she doesn't have to pinch herself to believe it. "I was actually feeling pretty confident I could put in a good jump(at the Trials)," said Smock. While she didn't get the PR she was hoping for in the rainy, cool temperatures in Eugene, she put one out there 45'9"(14.30m) on her first jump and never looked back, winning the Trials and booking her ticket to London.

Call it an early birthday present as Smock will turn 30 on July 27, the day of the Games opening ceremonies. The win was also something of a gift from her father and a thank you to him and the 25 friends and family that made the trip to Eugene to provide support in her quest. Her father, Glen Thieschafer, who died in June of 2009 of throat cancer, had urged the young gymnast to try the jumps and was with her at the 2008 Olympic Trials where she placed fifth.

When they returned home from those Trials Thieschafer took the credential from around his neck, scratched out the 2008 and wrote 2012. "I have very strong spiritual beliefs, so I think he was there with me(in Eugene)," said Smock. Smock's mother, brother, and husband were there to watch her compete. "Being able to share the experience with all of my family," said Smock, "made it really special"

The rain and cold weather was not new for Smock, but she did learn some valuable lessons that she might be able to use if the conditions in London are similar. She found that she was having trouble keeping warm. She was getting tight as well, so she discovered the best way to manage both issues was to do some sprints in between jumps to stay warm and loose.

Her training build up to the Trials had been good. She only had one physical problem of any significance with a hamstring issue in mid February that she was able to recover from quickly, hardly missing any training. Her approach to major championships/competitions, such as the Trials is a gradual taper leading into the meet.

She took a sabbatical from her job at Active8, a fitness training company in Minneapolis in February. "For the first time I was a full time triple jumper," said Smock. No dividing her attention between either work, the classroom or both and the sport. As she staring backing off in her training a couple weeks prior to the Trials, she felt the bounce return to her previously "heavy" legs. Her massage therapist told her legs felt looser.

Having been through high pressure situations, such as the Trials and having to get an A standard qualifier to make it to the World Championships last year, Smock is confident in her training strategy to peak for big events. She says she'll take a little time to recover from the Trials, then build back into a peak for London. She'll go back to the track at Macalester. "They really opened up their arms to me, letting me use the facilities, the track, the indoor track, and the weight room," said Smock.

She may try and get into one of the pre-Olympic meets in London, but mostly will be using the formula that has catapulted her to the Games. Checking the Olympic schedule she discovered that the triple jump finals come on the exact date that she set her PR of 46' 6.5"(14.18m) last year, which she interprets as a positive omen. "Jumping a personal best is something I can control," she said when asked about what she'll be focusing on in London. "PR on the day."

They had an orientation for athletes who made the team in Eugene. As part of the Olympic Ambassador Program, Jackie Joyner-Kersee and Dan O'Brien spoke to them about their experiences, what the Olympic experience was like. "I want to take in the whole experience," says Smock of the Olympics. "Everybody talks about the opening ceremony. I'm looking forward to all of it. Checking into the Olympic Village, everything between now and then." Photo courtesy of USATF

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