By PATRICK SLACK
Saving the best for last?
At least that was the case for former Melrose track and field state champion Amanda (Thieschafer) Smock with her dreams on the line at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene, Ore., June 22 – July 1.
In her first of six attempts down the runway in the triple jump, June 23, Smock soared 45-feet, 9-inches to open the competition.
“Going in, I was feeling really confident and excited,” Smock said. “The past few weeks leading up were going great. I was jumping further than I ever had, I was feeling healthy and really sharp and fast.
“I felt confident that I’d be able to put something good together, but I didn’t think it would be a cakewalk by any means,” she said.
The distance turned out to be her best of the Trials and better than any of her 11 competitors.
“I was counting on the other jumpers to put together a big jump and hit the ‘A’ standard, so I was thinking that I would have to the ‘A’ standard too.”
However, a cold, rainy day threw a wrench in that idea, hampering the field’s ability to hit a qualifying standard.
Everyone, except for Smock.
Each country can have a maximum of three qualifiers in the event provided they all hit the ‘A’ standard, but no one else besides Smock hit either the ‘A’ or ‘B’ standard.
That left Smock standing alone as the furthest jumper to hit a necessary standard and the lone representative on the U.S. team in the event for the upcoming Olympic Games in London, July 27 – Aug. 12.
It was the second U.S. outdoor championship in a row for Smock, whose closest foe finished with a leap of 45-feet, 4.5-inches.
For Smock, the journey to the Olympics has been a lifetime in the making.
When she was young she would watch the movie “Nadia,” about gymnast Nadia Comaneci scoring the first perfect 10.
“It was a little distant fantasy dream to be an Olympic gymnast,” Smock said. “When the Olympics came on I couldn’t get enough.”
Smock soon began experiencing plenty of athletic success on her own.
In high school, she won state championships in the long jump and triple jump for Melrose, then went on to become a three-time national champion at North Dakota State University.
Smock continued to thrive in the sport after college, placing in the top six at the U.S. Indoor Championships from 2005 – 2007, before placing fifth at the Olympic Trials in 2008.
The next day, she set her sights on 2012.
“In 2008, I was kind of a long shot to make the team,” Smock said. “About a year ago it started to become a reality and really started to become a dream that I could make the team.”
Smock’s training program begins in October and runs through July or August where she will train six days per week, including two workouts on three of the days.
The next four to six weeks are spent off of the track living a normal active lifestyle before the cycle starts anew.
“In the fall it’s a lot more intense as far as volume is concerned on the track and in the weight room,” Smock said.
“On the track it’s maybe two hours a day and another hour in the weight room,” she said. “The rest of the lifestyle is probably equally important to key in on, constantly being diligent about the food you eat and the time of hours you’re sleeping.”
“I get a minimum of nine hours a night and during heavy training take a nap,” she said. “Socially I don’t do anything that’s too taxing. It’s really a matter of always taking care of yourself.”
Looking ahead, Smock is eager to soak in the entire Olympic experience.
“I think each different aspect will provide a little different experience,” Smock said.
“Life in the athlete village, being able to hang out with all of the other athletes in training camp and compete in the Olympic stadium is going to be really exciting,” Smock said.
Additionally, she will get the added bonus of being able to celebrate her birthday the day of the Opening Ceremonies.
“Being on your feet the whole day could be very taxing,” she said, “so thankfully it’s a week before my competition.”
There are currently 38 women that have qualified, with the qualifying period closing July 8.
The preliminary round of the women’s triple jump will take place Aug. 3, with each competitor receiving three jumps.
The longest jump is then taken for each participant, with the top eight advancing to the finals, Aug. 5.