Ray Ewry, move over. Ewry, an 8-time gold medalist at the turn over the 20th century, only participated in three Olympics as a Purdue representative. Former Purdue track & field star Kara Winger is now headed to her fourth Olympics in the javelin throw. Last night in the preliminary rounds she met the Olympic Qualifying Standard, but she bettered it tonight with a throw of 61.47 meters to finish second in the Olympic Trials. The top three finishers headed to Tokyo.
During her time at Purdue Winger (then Patterson before her marriage) qualified for the NCAA Championships three times and was an All-American in 2008. That year she won the U.S Olympic Trials and made it to the games in Beijing, where she failed to qualify for the Finals and finished 41st.
The next four years were great for her. At the 2010 U.S. Track & Field Championships she established a new American record of 66.67 meters, one that she still holds. She would later qualify for the 2012 London Games where she finished 31st and did not reach the Finals. Of course, she had a good reason for this: She was competing on a torn ACL, as seems to be required of all Purdue athletes.
Kara was back in 2016 and she did much better. She just missed the finals, finishing 13th, one spot and 61 centimeters off. She was set to qualify for the games a year ago but: 1. that whole pandemic thing happened, and 2. she tore her ACL again:
The dramatic end to the dramatically short 2020 campaign comes on the heels of one of Winger’s best seasons ever. She won gold at the 2019 Pan American Games with a throw of 64.92 meters — her best since 2015 — that surpassed the Tokyo qualifying mark. Then at the world championships in Doha, Qatar, she finished fifth overall for the best result ever by an American women in the event at worlds.
This might be a final shot for Winger at a medal, but she has a chance. She is currently ranked 7th in the world. At least she gives us one more Boilermaker to cheer on in Tokyo, joining Chukwubuka Enekwechi, Brandon Loschiavo, Tyler Downs (an incoming diver), Annie Drews, and hopefully Zach Edey.