Going for the Gold

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Aug 252004
 
Authors: Pete Scalia

As if breaking school records, winning conference championships and placing in the top 10 at the NCAA finals weren’t enough, track and field star Loree Smith has her sights set on something better – an Olympic gold medal. Until she gets her next chance to make the 2008 Olympic games, she’ll settle for winning other world championship.

Continuing her journey to become one of the top women throwers in the world, Smith had a successful summer break. The CSU senior, representing the United States at the North American Central American Caribbean Championships, launched a hammer 209-5, winning the competition. Smith’s throw was good for first place and enough to land a gold medal around her neck. Smith won by just 5 inches over Jessica Crosby, who was also representing the United States.

The Universite de Sherbrooke Athletics Stadium in Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada, played host to the younger than 23-year-old athlete competition that pitted the United States against the 27 other countries.

Four hundred world-class athletes competed for their respective countries in the NACAC. Every two years, 32 nations compete in the event.

“I got to meet top young athletes in this part of the world, and got the feel of real competition,” Smith said.

In mid-July, Smith headed to Sacramento, Calif., to compete in the U.S. Olympic Trials. Smith, who is from Julesburg, Colo., was one of just seven Rams hoping to represent the United States in Athens, Greece, for the Olympics this year. She finished the preliminary round in fifth place after throwing 216-4 on the first day.

Finals weren’t as kind for Smith as she only threw 207-10 for a ninth overall finish. Smith missed out on the Olympics as only the top three finishers qualified. The third-place finisher, Amber Campbell from coastal Carolina, threw the hammer in the final round 216-6.

“I had thrown 216 just two days before, so that was frustrating,” Smith said.

Although she did not make the 2004 games, Smith will continue her quest to make the Olympic team.

“She’s very serious,” said Magnus Lohse, a thrower on the CSU track and field team. “A lot more serious than most American college students. She’s at a way different level.”

Until Smith can attempt to make a throw that lands her in Beijing for the next Olympiad, she will be training.

“I have a lot of developing to do; I’m just a baby in this sport,” Smith said on her chances of making it to the 2008 games.

“She has great potential to be a world-class athlete,” Lohse said. “She’ll definitely make the Olympics in ’08 if she keeps practicing.”

Smith still has an indoor and an outdoor season left while she is wearing the green and gold of CSU, and she hopes to pick up a sponsor to help with the financial burden of training for track and field.

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