Aug. 7, 2005
HELSINKI, Finland - Former University of Washington thrower Aretha (Hill) Thurmond was knocked out of the IAAF World Track and Field Championships Sunday after failing to secure one of 12 spots in the finals of the women's discus. The 1998 UW alum -- named captain by a vote of Team USA members Friday night -- was making her fifth appearance at the highest level of international competition, including two Olympic Games and three world championships.
Ranked seventh in the world entering the meet, the former Aretha Hill placed just 22nd overall, managing a best of 154-feet, 8-inches on her three preliminary-round tosses that was more than 50 feet behind her season-best of 207-5. In fact, none of Team USA's three highly-ranked women's discus competitors advanced past the prelim, with two-time Olympian Seilala Sua (189-3), and 2005 USA Outdoor champion Becky Breisch (187-6) each posting marks well behind their season-bests.
"Honestly, this was a sorry performance," Thurmond said afterward. "I don't want to know how far I threw, because it's not really important. The goal was to make it to the finals and I didn't. There was nothing wrong with the conditions. It was a situation where you take the blame. I didn't do what I was supposed to do today."
Despite significant international success -- including a gold medal at the 2003 PanAm Games and back-to-back U.S. discus titles in 2003 and 2004 -- Thurmond has historically struggled at the IAAF meet, placing 23rd and 20th in her previous two World Championships appearances in 1999 and 2003, respectively, prior to her 22nd-place finish Sunday.
Thurmond was outstanding during a four-year career at Washington that concluded in 1998, earning four All-America honors and setting an American collegiate record in the discus, while qualifying in 1996 for the first of her two-career Olympic Games appearances. Thurmond is currently a resident of Opelika, Ala., where she trains with her husband, thrower Reedus Thurmond, and her coach, Jerry Clayton.
Thurmond is one of three Huskies competing in Helsinki this weekend. Distance runner Christian Belz -- Switzerland's national-record holder in the 10,000 meters -- will run in the 10,000-meter final on Monday, while 2004 UW alum Brad Walker will attempt to turn his 2005 USA pole vault title into a World Championships medal beginning in Tuesday's pole vault qualifying.
Same-day coverage of the 2005 IAAF World Track and Field Championships is being provided in the United States by the PAX network. Check your local listings for time and channel in your area.