One of the biggest stories surrounding the Olympic Track and Field Trials is the return of Kara Winger to the javelin wars after being out of the sport for almost two years.

Winger, who grew up 120 miles north of Eugene in Vancouver, Washington, scored an unlooked-for silver medal two years ago at the world championships at Hayward Field when she threw 210-1 (64.05m) on her final throw to score the first medal of any color by an American javelin thrower.

Later that summer, Winger, who had won only one Diamond League meet (the 2010 Prefontaine Classic) going into the 2022 season, won the final two meets of the season in Brussels and the finale in Zürich to close out her professional career.

Or so we thought.

Fast forward to June 9th, the day after she posted on Instagram, marking her return to the sport, where she won the New York Grand Prix meet.

In New York, Winger threw 207-5 (63.22m), beating long-time rival Maggie Malone-Hardin, the only American with the Olympic standard of 210-0 (64.00m).

In Friday’s qualifying round, she led all qualifiers with a throw of 206-8 (63.01m).

When asked in the mixed zone why she came out of retirement, Winger, who said in her Instagram post before New York about her desire to emulate sprinter Allyson Felix as a five-time US Olympian in track and field, elaborated by saying, “For fun.”

Kara Winger had a long wait between this pb of 68.11m and her last one twelve years ago! September 2022, photo by Diamond League AG

While the decision to return to competition was announced before the meet in New York, the decision to come back actually happened two weeks before.

“It’s been a personal and fun exercise to test the technique. Do I understand the technique, and can I repeat it without anyone watching? It’s been harder to repeat it with everyone watching. I knew I was in shape, and I didn’t know if I wanted to prove that to others.”

“I was miserable in retirement for a couple of different reasons, but returning and testing whether I understood the technique have been really fun. Satisfying curiosity is what brought me back.”

“I’m 38 now, and some of the girls in the field were not born when I competed in my first Olympic Trials in 2004. I’m totally fine with that. It really inspires me to be around them, see the world through their eyes, and see them PB at the Olympic Trials. There’s no shame in being an older athlete.”

Leading up to the Olympic Trials, Winger worked as a brand ambassador for TrackTown USA, the local organizer of the US Olympic Trials. She attended meets around the country, including the USATF Throws Festival in Tucson, helping athletes tell their stories on the road to Eugene through short videos on social media.

She eventually wants to coach coaches, noting that in the US, there are a lot of great throws coaches but not many fantastic javelin throws coaches.

Winger said that after Friday’s qualifying round, she feels she has a 64-meter (210-0) throw in her, which is the only way she’ll add a fifth Olympic team to her resume, regardless of how she places.

Should she place in the top three but not throw 210 feet or further Sunday, she won’t go to Paris. Winger hasn’t competed in five meets since the qualifying period opened on July 1st to accumulate world ranking points. Sunday is the final day of the year-long Olympic qualifying period.

ALLEN MOVES ON TO THE FINALS IN THE 400 HURDLES

Washington State alum CJ Allen ran the second fastest time in qualifying in the 400 hurdles Friday, finishing second in 48.16 to defending Olympic champ Rai Benjamin’s 47.97.

 

Rai Benjamin, CJ Allen, photo by Paul Merca, Paul Merca Blogspot

“I felt hardly winded and walked off the track. I know there’s plenty in the tank (for Sunday’s final)”

When asked about any comparisons to his first-round race, where he ran 50.08 to win, he said that he went hard to 300 meters but didn’t feel the need to “bust my tail coming home” after securing the second automatic qualifying place in the heat.

​ 

By