Sunday, August 28, 2011

AMANDA SMOCK

We interrupt this edition of Running Minnesota to focus on Jumping Minnesota - triple jumping that is. It’s not often that Minnesotans make World or Olympic teams, but that’s what Amanda Smock did earlier this month. The 29-year-old Minneapolis resident started the summer off by winner her first U.S. title. Unfortunately, her winning jump left her a mere 1 ¼ inches short of qualifying for the World meet. She proceeded to travel all over Europe in hopes of qualifying. Those meets proved to be unsuccessful and Smock traveled back to the U.S. for one last meet. There she earned her qualifying mark. This week the former Melrose, MN resident (population 3,598) finds herself in Daegu, South Korea where she’ll be representing the U.S. You can learn more about Smock in this interview with Down the Backstretch, as well as this recent Star Tribune article.

First off, congratulations on your first U.S. title and also on qualifying for Worlds. What were your expectations heading into this season?

An overall goal of mine was to simply improve my mark –while staying healthy and enjoying training. I didn’t really have expectations as far as place finishes go. In the back of my mind I knew I would like to make the world team but it really wasn’t a focus of the year.

Was your U.S. title a little bitter-sweet given that you PR’d, yet missed the World Championship qualifying standards by a mere 1 ¼ inch?
Very much so, while doing some venting of my discouragement in being 3cm short of the B standard, my husband was quick to remind me of my accomplishment of winning the national title…he had to remind me on several occasions. It was a little difficult to fully enjoy that moment, but now looking back, (now that I know how that story ends) I am even more proud of the accomplishment of winning the national title.

After traveling all over Europe in search of the qualifying standard you eventually made your way back to the U.S. and earned the B-standard in what was basically your last chance meet. Was there more excitement or relief following that leap?
I would have to say achieving the B standard at that time was a huge feeling of excitement much more than relief because at that time point I had put the goal of jumping the B standard out of my head and made it all about just jumping with every bit of effort that I had left to give. After the European journey, I didn’t really think there was much left in the tank…but apparently there was!

It sounds like you were pretty beat up and exhausted from trying to qualify for the World Championships. How do you bounce back and prepare yourself for the actual meet?
Great question. It was a tough challenge to get ready to compete after returning from the traveling and the European competitions. Once I had made up my mind to go to California and booked my ticket to fly out the next day for the last opportunity, I made appointments with my Chiropractor (who I saw twice) and my massage therapist to get put back together and to help jump start the recovery process. They were both key pieces to getting on the recovery path.

How do you think this season sets you up for 2012 and the Olympic Games? In addition to placing in the top-3 in the U.S., is there another qualifying standard you’ll have to meet in next year or will your marks from this year carry-over?
I feel really good going into the Olympic year after the way this competitive season has gone. I think there are a few things I can improve upon in my jumps so I look forward to next season and the opportunities to compete and improve my mark. The qualifying window for the Olympic Games began May 1, 2011 so I currently have the B standard for the Olympic Games.

I assume most people don’t wake up one day and say “I want to be a triple jumper.” What is your athletic background and how did you evolve into a triple jumper?
That is true, it’s one of the situations where the event picks you. I had a much greater love for the sport of gymnastics from the time I was about 4 years old all the way through high school so track was really on the back burner. I participated in a few summer youth track meets in elementary school and found I was pretty successful at the sprinting events and the standing long jump so I decided to go out for the team in 7th grade. At that time one of my coaches directed me to the triple jump since I did well in the long jump and I stuck with it. I really didn’t start enjoying the sport though until college. After college, I just wasn’t ready to be done competing; I felt I had a lot of room for improvement in the triple jump so I continued to train.

Are you considered a professional athlete with sponsorships or do you have to finance all these international trips out of your own pocket?
I guess I am considered a professional because I make money doing the sport, however, I only make prize money. I currently have no sponsorships. Travel grants from USATF have financed the international trips I have taken.

In addition to your track and field career you also have a doctorate in exercise physiology. You currently work for Activ8, which is a really unique company. Can you tell us a little bit it and your role with the company?
Activ8 is a great company, I’ll try not to gush, but I really love my job. Briefly, using our exercise physiology backgrounds we create or co-create healthy and active environments whether it be workplace or community based cultures. We apply evidence-based principles to exercise programming as part of a sustainable culture shift in the way people live.

How do you balance your training along with your job?
A significant part of the balancing act draws on the support of my co-workers. Without that support I would not be able to both train and work with Activ8. My colleagues allow me the time to train, travel and live the lifestyle of an athlete while maintaining my role at work.

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