Olympians train at ND days after Rio
By Bridget Gehan, ND Blog Staff
Kovacs brought home the silver medal in the shot put. Hill also had a strong showing in shot put. Whitney Ashley qualified for the Olympic team in discus.
Qualifying is no easy task. The odds of going to the Olympics are 314,000,000:1. Olympians dedicate hours of work to their craft early morning workouts, waking up before the sun rises, training in strength, conditioning, and agility to reach this level.
Though Ashley, Hill and Kovacs were successful in Rio, there is no time to bask in the glory. Instead, they are preparing for the next Olympics.
“[The Olympics] are four years…it doesn’t start the year before… it starts right now, so if you’re going for 2020 it starts today,” Ashley says.
They arrived at Notre Dame for a two hour work out, beginning with rough and choppy throws. Hill and Kovacs soon evolved to graceful movements, almost ‘pirouetting’ into their throws, releasing the shot put tens of yards into the air.
The U.S. Olympic team is called “The Hardest Team to Make.” As Kovacs, Ashley, and Hill train to return to the highest level, they acknowledge that many people will try, but very few have the passion, determination, and skill to do it.
“Going into the Olympics is different because that is your plan; it’s your plan to go there… you don’t let things process until you get done… Afterward you can take a breath and really take things in and realize you’re at the highest stage representing your country and there’s no better feeling than that,” Kovacs says.
Kovacs is ranked #8 in the world for all time in men’s shot put according to the International Association of Athletic Federations (IAAF). In 2016 alone, Hill is ranked #5, a
nd Kovacs is ranked #3 according to the IAAF.
Ashley won the 2012 NCAA title in the women’s discus throw. Rio 2016 was her first Olympics, and though she did not place, she cemented herself as a worthy competitor.
Kovacs tells Olympic hopefuls “Find something you love and get the chip on your shoulder when it doesn’t work out… I got silver at these games which is an honor… but it’s the chip on my shoulder because it should be gold, and I need that to get me through the next four years.”