Olympic Trials Q & A – Jeneva McCall
Event: Hammer throw
PR: 69.55m/228-2 (2011)
Current Residence: Carbondale, Ill.
College: Southern Illinois ‘12
Hometown and High School: Thornbridge (Dolton, Ill.) H.S.
Jeneva McCall - Q & A
Faced with the chance of making her first Olympic team, Jeneva McCall is on a mission. The next stop for the Dolton, Ill., native and recent graduate of Southern Illinois University is the Olympic Team Trials – Track & Field scheduled for June 21-July 1 at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore. There McCall, a member of Team USA for last summer’s World Outdoor Championships in the hammer throw, will compete in three events – hammer throw, shot put and discus. Following her NCAA title in the hammer throw last weekend, USA Track & Field caught up with McCall in this Q & A.
Give us an update on how you're feeling and how your training is going into the Olympic Trials?
“My training is going great. We’re just working out kinks that we saw competing at NCAA meet.”
How did your performance at NCAA Championships help you in your road to the Trials?
“My performance helped me prepare for Trials by seeing what can go wrong under pressure. When you get into a meet such as the NCAA and you have to be at your best all the time, especially to come out with a win, you’re exposed to what’s working and what’s not working. You have to be on point to be successful. Now that I’m not at NCAA we’ve come back and collect all the things that went wrong or could have done better, what I saw, what the coach saw, and we’re working on that stuff to get better prepared for Olympic Trials.”
This has been a big spring for you. You graduated from Southern Illinois, competed in your last NCAA Championships and now you’re going to be competing in your first Olympic Trials. What has been the biggest thing that has kept you grounded and focused on what’s ahead?
“I’m always up for a new challenge. It’s one chapter ending and we’re beginning another. I’m going into this world I’ve never experienced. I’ve never been to the Olympic Trials. I’m going to look at my lack of experience as a benefit for me when I go in and just try to do my all instead of becoming scared, afraid and nervous.”
All season you’ve thrown shot, discus and hammer. Which event(s) are you going to focus on at Trials? What event are you most confident about and why?
“I’m doing all three. I’m confident in all three. If you aren’t confident in any of them then what’s the point in signing up and going to the Olympic Trials. It’s such a big meet you have to be confident. At practice we’re just taking one event at a time and that’s what I’m going to do at the Trials. The schedule of the meet is set up perfect. I can do the hammer and disc, reenergize and come back for the shot. If I were to focus on one or two it’s almost like I’m cheating myself.”
How is your preparation different this season heading into the Trials?
“It’s been different because we worked through conference, regionals and NCAAs and we’re trying to peak out at the Olympic Trials. It’s going to take a big peak in order for me to get on the team.”
Is there anything specific in your training heading into the Trials that you're choosing to focus on?
“We did some things in different events. Mainly speed. We focused on going faster and moving the ball faster in the hammer and getting off the back faster in shot and disc. I’m powerful so if we can work the speed and blend the two good things will happen.”
What type of a mark do you anticipate it taking to get to London?
“The Olympic ‘A’ standard. This year it’s different. They aren’t taking any ‘B’ (standards). Even if you come in third place it’s still going to take A’s to make the team. I have all B’s so this meet is about getting the A.”
How many different athletes do you see having a chance to making the team in the three events?
“That’s an impossible question to answer because you never know what person is bringing to the competition. You can never underestimate or overestimate another athlete. What if the top thrower fouls out? What if they break they’re hand? You never know. Something like that is going to come down to who wants it the most and who’s willing to go after it.”
What do you think is your biggest advantage over your competition at the Trials?
“Since I’ve been competing at a higher level every year, the fact that the pressure does not get to me or I don’t see it as the biggest meet in the world. I just see it as another meet you get in your throw between the lines, don’t hop out of the circle and everything is going to be fine. That’s what’s gotten me through USA (Championships), World (Championships), NCAA (Championships) and any other big meets.”
What would a spot on Team USA for the Olympic Games mean for you?
“It means that my mission was complete. When I was younger I was in gymnastics and used to watch Dominique Dawes (three-time Olympic gymnast and part of the 1996 Olympic gold medal winning team) twirl and somersault across the mat and I wanted to be a gymnast. Obviously I got too big but I wanted to be there at the Olympic Games because even watching on the screen what these people are doing I felt the pride and the glory and all the other things associated with the Olympic Games. The fact that I get a chance to get where I wanted to when I was young means I completed my mission. Though I’m not going to stop. James Bond never stopped after his mission. It just means I reached another milestone, another mark, and it’s just fulfilling a dream.”