http://paloaltoonline.com/print/story/print/2012/05/25/shes-leaping-at-chanceto-return-to-olympics


Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - May 25, 2012

She's leaping at chance to return to Olympics

Cardinal senior King still needs qualifying standard in women's long jump, but still has some time to accomplish her goals

by Rick Eymer

Redshirt senior Arantxa King understands the opportunity in front of her as her collegiate track and field career comes to a close. The two-time All-American could finish as both an NCAA champion and a two-time Olympian.

King experienced the 2008 Olympics as part of the track and field team from Bermuda, and two years later was the NCAA runner-up in the long jump. After a year off due to injury, she returned to the track ready to complete a solid career.

There's one small problem. Entering Thursday night's long jump competition at the NCAA West Regional in Austin, Texas, King has yet to achieve the Olympic 'B' standard of 6.65 meters, or roughly 21-8 1/4. Her personal best, established two years ago, is 6.57, or 21-6 3/4.

King will also compete in Saturday's triple jump, though she doesn't train for the event any longer. Long jump has been, and always will be, King's best event.

"The first jump usually sets the tone for the competition," King said. "Three jumps can go quickly and there's a lot of self-assessment and thinking through the process for accuracy and technique."

A reason why King is more optimistic about achieving the required mark either in Austin or in Des Moines, Iowa, the site of the NCAA championships, is that she set her personal best on a partially torn patellar tendon.

The tendon connects to the kneecap and can chip away bone. There's no easing the pressure of the violence caused from transferring sprint into a launch.

The injury limited her workouts for two years before finally undergoing micro fracture surgery to correct the problem. Following a year of rehabilitation, she's been able to work out more often and is making strides.

"I have not been able to work on technique until this year," she said. "I'm finally practicing three times a week and I am hoping to see results."

King went 21-0 3/4 on her first try to finish second in the long jump at the recently concluded Pac-12 Championships in Eugene, Ore. There's still plenty of time to extend herself the addition half-foot necessary, and technique remains the key.

Taking part in the Opening Day festivities in Beijing in 2008 was an emotional experience King cannot easily put into words. She'd love to experience it again in London.

"It was like walking in a dream," she said. "It was amazing to be next to the best athletes in the world and surrounded by 100,000 people. I loved being around people from all over the world. Even though we compete against each other, there was a sense we came together."

King was born in Bermuda and came, with her family, to the Boston area at an early age. She maintains a deep connection with her birthplace, however.

"At my core, I relate to Bermuda," King said. "I have been competing internationally for Bermuda since I was 14 and from those opportunities I've been able to come this far."

It helps to come from a family emersed in sports, particularly track and field. Branwen Smith-King, her mother, was a talented athlete and held the Bermuda long jump record until Arantxa surpassed it. Smith-King still holds the school record in the shot put for Springfield College and is in the schools' Hall of Fame. She also served as an assistant coach for Bermuda's track and field team for the 1996 Atlanta Games.

Smith-King currently serves as an associate Athletic Director at Tufts following a 17-year career as track and field and cross country coach at the school.

King began her international career at the Carifta Games, which involves all Caribbean nations. Smith-King competed in the first year of the Games.

"The islands have a great tradition in track and field," King said. "The Caribbean community is tight-knit and there's a sense of unity. They take their track and field serious."

King met Jamaica's world-renowned sprinter Usain Bolt during such competition and has been able to hang out with him away from the track.

"He's actually very funny," King said. "He sometimes comes off as arrogant but he loves the sport."

Rowing

Stanford rowing alums David Banks ('05) and Jake Cornelius ('05) were part of the men's U.S. Eight that captured a four-second victory over New Zealand Tuesday at the Olympic Qualification Regatta in Lucerne, Switzerland, claiming a spot in the 2012 Olympic Games.

Banks and Cornelius were named to the boat's new lineup May 1, following an arduous training camp held in Berkeley. USRowing opted to make changes to the original crew that had failed to earn an Olympic spot at the World Rowing Championships last September.

Tennis

Stanford senior tennis standout Ryan Thacher has been named winner of the 2012 Men's ITA/Arthur Ashe Jr. Award for Leadership and Sportsmanship.

A two-year captain for the Cardinal, Thacher has helped lead the team through several ups and downs in his four years. He has had tremendous success on the court, reaching the NCAA doubles semifinals in 2010 and the NCAA finals in 2011.

Thacher also has been named an ITA All-American twice in his career, along with earning All- Pac-12 first-team honors on three occasions. Thacher has recorded at least 20 singles victories in each of his four seasons with the Cardinal.

Thacher has an impressive 3.917 GPA with a major in history, demonstrating a tremendous focus to balance athletics and academics. He has also worked with the East Palo Alto Tennis & Tutorial Program, a program that brings local kids in to be tutored by Stanford students.

Thacher plans to attend medical school to become a pediatric surgeon or trauma specialist after playing tennis professionally.

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