On what she did to improve, after the 2004 Olympics
“I actually started, right after the ‛04 Olympics. I moved up to Sacramento, from San Luis Obispo. I got married and that year I was injured, I had a shoulder injury, so that year was pretty much a transition year. I started building my team up in Sacramento, when I moved there. From my injury, I went to a couple different therapists and decided that I needed to find somebody that was going to be a great asset to me in terms of my sports medicine needs. So I got a massage therapist and I started working with my old high school coach (Robert Budke), who had moved up there. It was basically trying to find the right team that would help me incorporate all these different areas that I needed to improve on – the technical areas, the physical area and I started (researching) some of the tools that we have with USA Track & Field, like sports psychology and nutritionists and stuff like that.”
What coaches should look for in a good thrower
“They should be looking for athletes. It doesn’t really matter what type of athlete they are, but to throw the discus you need to be very athletic. A lot of times you see, in high school – especially with girls – the coach will try to pick out the girl that’s the biggest because they think they have lots of muscle. And that’s great, that’s fine, but this girl also needs to be taught how to be athletic, and not just strong. Strength will do nothing for you if you can’t move it, if you can’t be dynamic with it. So the coach really needs to take a look at athletes that might not even know what the shot put or the discus is and introduce them to it. Because a lot of girls, it doesn’t seem like there’s a lot of interest in track and field, but especially the throwing events. So these coaches need to, first of all, get athletes to become interested in throwing, and that will take lots of creative tools ...
There’s scholarships out there for track and field athletes. And if you know that, ‛Hey, I’m not going to be the starting quarterback for UCLA, but I can definitely go to school and get a college education from a track and field scholarship,’ that might be one of the creative tools they can use to get people interested. And they need to find athletes, which is why a lot of football coaches are actually the throws coaches in high school, because they have access to the football team.”
Her advice for young throwers
“There’s a huge online community of athletes and coaches that coach and do shot put and discus and javelin and hammer. So I think that right now the best tool for learning how to do it and just watching videos is going online ... looking up YouTube videos of the discus throw and watching Gerd Kanter and all these great athletes and asking questions and getting online, like the chat groups for the discus and the shot put. ... Because a lot of athletes don’t have access to any good coaches where they are. So if they can’t find a coach where they are, then go online and look at that. And also there’s clinics, there’s high school clinics. ... A lot of people have different opinions about how the throw should go. ... You can be fast, you can be slow, but as long as you’re on balance you know you’re going to throw pretty far ... Any drills that can improve your balance are drills that I would teach high school kids how to do.”
On her life after the 2008 Olympics
“I’ve been visiting camps and school kids, showing them the medal and telling them what the discus is about. This time is really the best time that I’ve ever had, showing kids what the discus is. I like to reference the Chinese translation for what the discus is. It’s called the ‛iron cake.’ I call it the iron pancake. Because a lot of kids don’t know what the discus is, so I just say, it looks like a pancake, but it’s made out of iron.
“I feel like I’m a lot busier. There’s not any huge change, but it just feels like there’s a lot more to do. I still have my job at the environmental consulting company (Sycamore Environmental Consulting), doing IT work. I’m in training right now, just like I am all year, I’m preparing for my next season. The next big meet is at Eugene (Ore.) for the Outdoor Nationals in June this year (2009). Then after that, Berlin, for the World Championships. I’m looking forward to going to those.”
Her goals for 2009
“I have a goal to win a national championship. That’s still something I haven’t done. And throw over the American record, which is 222 feet. And I have a goal of medaling at the next World Championships.”
Read part 1 of this exclusive interview with Olympic discus champion Stephanie Brown Trafton.
Stephanie Brown Trafton profile