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Brown Trafton was confident going to Beijing

Gold medal discus thrower was confident going to Beijing

By Dave Price

Appeal Staff Writer

Even though Stephanie Brown Trafton ended a very long American Olympic drought when she won the women’s discus gold medal in Beijing, her triumph shouldn’t be described as an upset, or even a surprise.

You see, the 28-year-old thrower from Galt, Calif., was confident she would be a medal contender coming into the Olympics.

“If somebody had done their research and looked at my record of progression during the year, they would have seen that I held the No. 1 mark in the world for six or seven weeks running, they would have seen that I had been winning all my meets against the good Americans and they would have seen that I had never finished lower than third in any meet,” Brown Trafton said Saturday during an autograph session at Carson City Fleet Feet Sports.

“I was confident going in at that point,” she added. “Once you get to the finals, anything can happen.”

On Aug. 18, Brown Trafton unleashed a throw of 212-feet, 5-inches at the Bird’s Nest to take a lead she never relinquished to become the first American woman to win an Olympic gold medal in the event since Lillian Copeland in 1932. The last American to even make it to the medal stand had been Leslie Deniz in 1984.

Surprise? Perhaps to those who had only seen her third-place result from the U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene, Ore., or seen that she had finished 22nd at the 2004 Olympics in Athens. She still has never even won a national title.

Brown Trafton knew she had done her homework before arriving in Beijing. She had even prepared by mounting a poster on a garage wall at home in Galt ” a photograph that showed a view of the Bird’s Nest from the thrower’s cage on the field.

“That was my visualization,” she said.

Brown Trafton logged a breakthrough on May 8 with a victory in Salinas, Calif., where she threw a personal record and world-best distance of 217-1. That was followed by a win on June 8 at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Ore., where she came from behind in the fifth round to beat Vera Cechlova of the Czech Republic with a throw of 208-4.

“Prefontaine was an important meet for me because I felt I really competed, where I kept coming back,” she said.

Her success has been the culmination of more than just one year’s work.

“The last four years really,” Brown Trafton said. “I had a transition year in 2005 … I moved, I got married and I was injured. I could have quit then, but I stayed with it.

“Then I found a physical therapist who is a sports performance trainer. He had a custom program for me that improved my athleticism, my balance, my core strength and my conditioning,” she added, referring to Results Physical Therapy and Training Center in Sacramento. “This is the strongest I’ve ever been and I’m so much more fit than I was a few years ago.”

Brown Trafton says she isn’t finished yet, although she preferred not to talk about defense of her Olympic title four years from now in London. It’s just that there are some other goals she wants to accomplish first.

“My next goal is to win a national championship. Next, after that, is to set the American record (222-0 set by Suzy Powell in 2007) and I would like to get to a point where I can win consistently at the international level,” she said.

In the meantime, Brown Trafton enjoys spending time sharing her knowledge with youth. On Sunday, she spoke to members of the Carson High School track and field program during a barbecue held at the home of Mike Louisiana, who coaches the Senators’ throwers. Next week she plans to attend a throwers clinic with Louisiana at James Logan High School in the Bay Area.

“I hope to inspire boys and girls to go out for track and field,” she said. “It’s such a great opportunity because there are so many different events for everyone.

“You don’t have to be big to throw the discus, either. The discus incorporates speed, power, agility, ability, a great mental outlook, and you have to be willing to work at it.”

Oh, and there was one more point Brown Trafton wanted to make on Saturday.

“Since my mother’s British, it has been reported that I carry dual citizenship, but I do not have dual citizenship and I want to get that straightened out,” she said.

That makes her a true All-American. A golden one, no less.

– Contact Dave Price at 881-1210 or at dprice@nevadaappeal.com