Brown Trafton brings discus gold medal to Carson City
By Dave Price
Appeal Staff Writer
A man clad in running attire eagerly walked into Carson City Fleet Feet Sports and asked the Olympic celebrity to autograph his special white jersey.
"One other gold medal winner signed this ... Rafer Johnson," Bill Hartman said, adding that he had met the 1960 Olympic decathlon champion at a youth sports function some 20 years ago.
Stephanie Brown Trafton flashed a smile and quickly signed Hartman's jersey, noting her appreciation to be included in such prestigious company.
Brown Trafton, 28, who lives in Galt, Calif., earned her way into celebrity status in August when she won the women's discus gold medal in Beijing " a feat no other American woman had achieved in 76 years. She brought the gold medal with her to the Fleet Feet store and gladly offered to let anyone hold and even wear it around their neck.
"I encourage everyone to hold it," she said. "It's like a dream."
Brown Trafton won the gold with a throw of 212 feet, 5 inches on Aug. 18 at the Bird's Nest in Beijing, becoming the first American woman to win Olympic gold in the women's discus since Lillian Copeland in 1932 and the first American woman to medal event since Leslie Deniz in 1984.
What was her reaction when the "Star Spangled Banner" was played during the medal ceremony, asked Maizie Harris Jesse, who was among the fans who turned out for the autograph session Saturday.
"I cried," Brown Trafton said. "That's what every athlete dreams of ... to stand on top of the medal stand. I was in shock. I had to ask someone if that was the appropriate time to take my victory lap."
As it turned out, Brown Trafton's victory lap carried a good deal of sentimental value.
"The flag I carried was a flag a neighbor (in Galt) gave me before I left for Beijing," she said. "He said, 'I took this flag with me to Iraq and it brought me good luck. Now I want you to take it to Beijing.'"
Brown Trafton packed the flag for the trip and made sure it was handy when she departed for the Bird's Nest on the day of the women's discus finals.
"You have to be prepared for anything," she said.
There has been a price to pay for that success because Brown Trafton says she's only spent two weeks at home since late July. Since returning from Beijing, for example, she's been to the White House ("The President has very soft hands"), to Chicago for an appear on the Oprah Winfrey Show's salute to U.S. Olympians, and to New York City for the Women's Sports Foundation-hosted "Salute to Women in Sports." She hasn't minded the travel one bit.
"I met Billie Jean King at the Women's Sports Foundation awards ceremony this past week," she said. "That really inspired me to get involved with the Foundation " they fund Boys & Girls Clubs, they fund GoGirlGo!, so they do a lot."
Brown Trafton was featured Saturday night in Minden during the Boys & Girls Club of Carson Valley fund-raiser held at the Carson Valley Inn.
"I want to help boys and girls to get out and be more active, instead of staying at home in front of the television. Being active leads to a better and healthier lifestyle, and sports is an outlet for that."
- Contact Dave Price at 881-1210 or at email@example.com
(Editor's note: See a related story in Monday's Nevada Appeal that focuses on Brown Trafton's path to the medal stand in Beijing)
STEPHANIE BROWN TRAFTON
Height: 6-3 1/2
PR: 66.17 meters/217-1 feet (2008 in Salinas, Calif.)
Gold medal throw: 64.74 meters/212-5 feet
Born: Dec. 1, 1979 in San Luis Obispo, Calif.
Current Residence: Galt, Calif.
High School: Arroyo Grande (Arroyo Grande, Calif.)
College: Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, 2003
Of note: "My mother's British, so it has been reported that I carry dual citizenship, but I do not have dual citizenship," Brown Trafton said. "I was born in San Luis Obispo."