Jason Young (born 27 May, 1981) is an US American discus thrower who competed in the 2012 Summer Olympics, finishing 19th. This article stemmed from a response to question/ conversation with Norm Zylstra on facebook.
I’m not competing this year at all. My career thus far has been cyclical when it comes to training preparation and finances. For the last two years I’ve been chasing a season that never happened. Whether due to injury in 2013, or for being in great shape in 2014 and basically having zero funding from the federation. I’ve decided for the rest of my career (hopefully 2016 and 2017) that I won’t be depending on them to call shots for me.
This year for me is about training, developing sponsorship opportunities that are very stable locally, and doing business in a manner that ensures I have a career future post track & field. As it stands right now with the Olympic standard at 66 meters (216′ 6”), and with few, if any American discus throwers are getting into international meets–the future is looking grim for USA men’s discus (even though we have plenty talent). My goal is to compete at a very high level or not at all.
I can have season’s bests around 65 meters (213′) year after year while working, doing my part to support my family, and mostly training alone. 65 meter type distances don’t earn you any money nowadays nor do they provide (me at least) any funding to continue…
If an American discus thrower can’t throw a yearly season best of 67m+ (220’+) or minimally finish top-3 at the USAs every year, you won’t really have a true career. 2016 is my individual aim, but right now I’m enjoying not worrying about any of the nonsense that goes along with “playing the game”, but I am training and preparing.
I feel that being on the international circuit is most important to one’s success and potential to medal. It takes quite a bit of experience at that level, and in the top meets, to be mentally strong enough to even have a good shot at making an international championship final (World Championship and Olympics).
At the rate American men are competing in big international meets, it matters not how far we can throw at our best… “it matters how far we can throw when everything is shit”… if you can’t throw 65m (213′) in the drizzling rain, in a stadium, in a country that took a 30 hour trip to get to, 1-2 days post landing, in a slippery circle, with someone else’s discus, with severe jetlag; you’re not at a level that is good enough to throw 68m and medal at the World’s or the Olympics . No matter how you peak, how hopeful your grandmother is, and what your sport psychologist says, you must have fought these situations prior to achieving a medal caliber level of performance.
In 2010 I was inching close to this level.
- My best major meet performance–66.95m (219′ 8″) at the Prefontaine IAAF DL meet in Eugene, USA
- Best international meet Performance–Shanghai China IAAF Diamond League 64m+ (meet two days after thirty hour trip).
• I was just too inexperienced to throw 66m+ (217’+) outside the USA.
• I threw only 65m season best, but was much more adept at throwing 63-64m in any given situation, and forcing… yes I said, forcing it to happen.
• I was also more skilled at getting a “qualifying throw” (62.5-63.5m) within the first three throws.
• My season best top-10 throws average was around 67m in 2010, but most meets besides Prefontaine, I didn’t have a throw over 62m in the first three rounds…. So I benefitted in 2011 from international experience gained in 2010, and from having many international comps in 2011. This scenario forced me to have to throw farther immediately vs. putting together the “perfect throw”.
All these things are not fully considered by those that haven’t experienced them first hand… this is why I stated that the future doesn’t look good… Talent in the USA is enormous, but experience development objectives are low! Instead of funding athletes to fly to cush and comfy vacation meets in California, we need to fund them to go into tough environments and attain a high standard internationally. This isn’t about anti-wind throwing, this is about having to push to make a final, having to learn how to perform when you can’t get relaxed and won’t ever be. I loved to watch Lars Riedel perform, as he always looked ready to crap a brick before dropping a huge bomb. He had been prepared for the fight, he had been prepared to perform and didn’t take lightly to losing.
Ultimately, USA throwers are performing at lower standards in the bigger Meets on home soil. I can remember the 2012 New York Diamond league. I threw crummy, matter of fact all 5 Americans entered threw crummy. A couple weeks layer under lesser conditions at the trials we all threw much better. The key I believe was that other top international throwers were in New York. Before you mention peaking, 2 weeks prior to that NYC comp the same guys met on home soil with no major international competitors and we all threw much better. The NYC meet forced us all to have to throw better in the early rounds, to take more perceived risk, to actual compete with each other.
Here’s a good question?
Name five USA meets including the one annual Diamond League where it takes 62.5m (typical standard for top 12 in a major qualifying round) in the 1st three rounds to make the top-8…
Don’t worry, I’ll wait!
To be ultimately successful I feel that emerging top discus throwing talents need at least 10 competitions per season that drive that person to compete at a higher level. Post collegiately this environment does not exist in America. It may ultimately be of benefit to some of the young throwers to move to Europe, take a part time job there, pay a part time coach, and be a bit closer to the action.
American discus throwers initially must have big personal bests early during their season (specifically right after college). This seems counter-intuitive until we realize that international comps are by invitation ONLY. The world’s top 10 from the previous season will be invited to all early season meetings. You will have no real sense of a season in May and June as a post collegiate, if you don’t have big throws early in the season (at least the first year).
Training only for USA nationals (as I did mostly after college) led me to season after season of disappointment. I was hedging all my bets on a single competition. I was trying to train like Alekna with no training camps, no funding, no meet invites. I was only doing 6-8 total comps per year. I soon realized that some throwers like Gerd Kanter at the time were doing more than 20 (at times near 30). He was also throwing quite far from the start, and staying that way all summer!
After having a career full of learning, I think I understand how to get a good result in our social situation. I cover some of these topics in my book Discus Dynamics. One day I would like to spend time helping to develop these up and coming talents. I believe that it can be done with less funding that perceived, and with different planning than what we are currently using.
I hope to see you all next season!
Good luck, and throw far!