DAEGU, SOUTH KOREA – Competing in the first round of the women’s javelin at the World Championships in conditions best described as oppressive, former Newberg High School and University of Oregon star Rachel Yurkovich did not advance to the finals of the women’s javelin.
Despite the 90+ degree temperature accompanied by high humidity, two-time NCAA champion Yurkovich looked quick and explosive, but she did not get the big season-best throw that it would have taken to get her to the finals. Her best was 193-01, good for 15th place, three spots out of qualifying.
“It was . . . the best series of my season, so I can’t complain about that,” Yurkovich said. “I started a little late this season and have been slowly progressing. I thought today would be better, but it was (still) a good day for me.”
Her appearance here marked Yurkovich’s second straight time on the United States team for the World Championships. In Berlin at the 2009 World Championships, Yurkovich made the finals in javelin, but ended up in 12th place.
After the competition on Thursday, Yurkovich was upbeat about the progress she has made this year, and is looking ahead to 2012, which is, of course, an Olympic year.
“Good things are ahead . . . It’s exciting. I’m really hoping to make the Olympic team, so getting this experience before that is really awesome.
The fact that I did it this year, and really wasn’t expecting to makes me really happy. I just hope I can do it again next year.”
Part of the reason for her optimism is Yurkovich’s feeling that some recent life and career changes have put her back on track for success in her sport.
“Part of the reason I started so late (this season) is I moved to Portland and I changed coaches and training facilities. It has been a learning process this year but I’m getting comfortable.
“I’m really liking what’s happening now. Don Babbitt of Georgia is my coach, and it’s a little hard getting together. But we’re going to make it work.
“I feel like he’s a good coach. He has a lot of experience, and he also has experience coaching people who aren’t right there in town with him. He has athletes all over the world and all over the U.S. so he’s used to doing the long distance thing.”
Babbitt has, in fact, coached 35 Olympic and World Championship competitors, including eight who have won medals. While Babbitt has built a powerhouse in the throwing events at the University of Georgia, he continues to share his technical knowledge of the throws with many other professional athletes like Yurkovich.
“For me that’s what I need right now. We’re building a good bond. We get along well, mesh well together.”
While she occasionally travels to Georgia for one-on-one sessions with Babbitt, the bulk of Yurkovich’s training is in Oregon.
“Most of my training is at the Nike campus in Beaverton, and I throw at Sunset High School.”
Despite not making the finals in Daegu, Yurkovich’s season may not be over yet. There are still a few post-worlds meets this month in Europe and even Northern Africa, and Yurkovich is hoping for an invitation to compete.
“I had some decent throws, so, hopefully, I can get into a few more meets this year. Berlin and Tangier are coming up, so if I can get in, I’ll go there; if not, I’ll go home.”
Whenever she does get home to Oregon, Yurkovich will, no doubt, turn her full attention to preparing for 2012.
If the past is any indication, her optimism about next year is well-founded. In each of the past seven years, Yurkovich has improved her personal best. If she can do that again in 2012, Yurkovich may well realize her Olympic dreams, not only making the team, but continuing her steady climb toward the top of the world list in women’s javelin.