In a sport where men have traditionally taken center stage, Olympic shot putter Jillian Camarena-Williams isn’t looking to be a hopeful in the 2012 Olympics, she wants to be a favorite.
"Obviously the men have been really strong in the shot put for many years, but the women have struggled until now," Camarena-Williams said in an interview with USA Track & Field.
The Olympic shot putter came in twelfth place in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, but has since changed her throwing technique from the glide to spinning, adding about six feet to her throws according to ESPN.
Camarena-Williams' change in technique made her the first American female shot putter to bring home a medal from a world championship. In the 2011 IAAF World Outdoor Championships, she earned the bronze medal, garnering global attention and setting her hopes high for the 2012 games.
Throwing shot put takes a toll on an athlete's body, but Camarena-Williams draws inspiration from a fellow female Olympic athlete famous for competing through pain, Kerri Strug. In the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, Strug pulled off one of the most famous moments in U.S . Olympic history when she sealed a gold medal for America in gymnastics over the traditionally dominant Russia by continuing to compete after being injured.
"It was such an inspiration to watch her battle such pain. A lot of the athletes have been through that," Camarena-Williams said. "Everyone saw it and everyone experienced that together."
Camarena-Williams is no stranger to pain. Training for and throwing shot put requires constant physical maintenance. "It’s a very unnatural movement for your body so it takes a real big toll on your body," she said. "You get a lot of injuries, back, knees everything."
"She's ready to throw far."
- Dustin Williams
She won't have to face the pain alone, though. Camarena-Williams’ husband, Dustin Williams, is a physiotherapist for the U.S. track and field athletes going to the London games.
The couple bought their tickets to London together before Camarena-Williams was even selected to go as part of the team.
In an interview with ESPN, Williams said that he had faith in his wife's ability to not only win the chance to represent the U.S., but to also take home a medal. "It's just one of those things where you have the faith and trust that what we've been doing is going to work," he said. "She's ready to throw far."