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Monday, June 25, 2012
Shelbi Vaughan "the future of throwing"

By Doug Binder

Shelbi Vaughan
Prep USR-holder Shelbi Vaughan TX throws her way to a very impressive fourth in the Olympic Trials discus final.
EUGENE, Ore. -- By the end of her sixth throw, which glanced off the netting and hit the ground with a thud as 21,000-plus watched her at Hayward Field, Shelbi Vaughan would have gladly signed up to take six more.

Vaughan, the senior from Legacy High in Mansfield, Texas, had four legal throws between 188-9 and 195-9 on Sunday in the Olympic trials final of the women's discus.

The three women who finished ahead of her have made a combined 10 Olympic teams.

"It's unbelievable," Vaughan said of her experience over the first three days of the trials at Hayward Field. "Seventeen years old and competing in and competing with 35-year-olds is unbelievable and to have the experience (here) is great."

Vaughan asserted herself as a player for a berth in the London Olympics, but she couldn't quite muster the throw that would have taken her there. She needed 203-5 and if she would have hit it, she would have made the team and become the first prep to compete for the U.S. at the Olympics since track turned professional more than 30 years ago.

Vaughan's series: 189-10, 195-9, 193-6, foul, 188-9, foul.

Her name was announced prior to her final throw and the attention of the crowd was on her as she went to the back of the ring to begin her wind-up. She could feel the excitement of a big throw coming, but she let the disc go a split-second too soon.

"I was hoping I could keep (third) place and get the A standard and make the Olympic team," Vaughan said. "If that wasn't there and I'd have let go a little later that (last one) would have been a really far throw."

Vaughan's season isn't over. She will travel with the U.S. junior team to Barcelona, Spain and compete for the gold medal at the World Junior Championships.

Vaughan got an up-close look at some of the most talented female discus throwers in U.S. history. Stephanie Brown Trafton, the reigning Olympic champion, launched her final throw 213-10, as if to declare that she's not ready to give up the title. Second-place finisher Aretha Thurmond, 35, made her fourth Olympic team. And Suzi Powell-Roos, who started making Olympic teams in 1996, was third and also a little short of the A standard necessary for London.

"She's an amazing thrower and I've been watching her ever since I knew I had a chance at coming here," Vaughan said of Trafton Brown.

Vaughan's throws coach (one of several who consult with her), Laura McClellan, has worked with her for the past three years.

"She's one in a million," McClellan said. "She's been on the brink of 200 feet ever since the end of the high school season, and the state meet. She's capable of 200 feet but it just wasn't quite attainable today. It wasn't her day (yet)."

What happened this week in Eugene will stay with Vaughan and the expectations will grow over the next four years as the three women in front of her Sunday all face the prospects of retirement.

"She's a baby," McClellan. "As far as lifting and working out and the things that a thrower gym rat does, she's not (there). She has a whole other life outside of it. But she's the future of throwing."