Four Jayhawks who competed in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio returned to Lawrence for a press conference on Friday, August 26.
Watch our videos below to hear thoughts about the experience from Andrea Geubelle, Daina Levy, Kyle Clemons, and Mason Finley.
More coverage from the press conference at KUSports.com
Throwing some weight around
Mason Finley leads a strong group of Team USA discus throwers in Rio. The former KU track and field student-athlete won the event at the Olympic Trials and looks to be a medal contender if he can qualify through to the finals on Saturday. Although the event has historically been dominated by the United States, thanks in large part to legendary Jayhawk Al Oerter, who won four consecutive Olympic titles, no American has won a medal in more than 30 years. Finley will need to bring his A game, but now that he’s in the best shape of his life, anything’s possible.
That wasn’t always the case, as he packed on pounds as a Jayhawk undergraduate. Believing that bigger was better, Finley took advantage of endless training table meals and put on nearly 100 pounds during his three years at Kansas before transferring to Wyoming. It took a toll on his speed, technique and health. He talked about going beyond the typical “freshman 15” in a recent interview with the Washington Post.
“I’m an eater, man,” he said. “There’s no way around it. I like to eat food.”
Since getting a handle on his nutrition, the results have come quickly and he’s seen steady improvement.
“My technique is far better,” Finley told the Post. “I’m healthy—which was really rare in college—and I’m faster, probably same speed as high school.”
Finley moved back to Lawrence to train with KU throwing coach Andy Kokhanovsky. The move also brought him closer to his family. He told the Denver Post, “I wanted to be closer with my mom and family back there. I figured out that family is a really huge support staff. You definitely need it.”
The support—and the coaching—helped propel Finley to the top of his game and the top of his sport.
“I’m able to hold positions faster, move faster and compete healthier,” Finley says.
By the time he made it to the Olympic Trials, Finley was hardly a dark horse. The former 8-time collegiate All-American and high school record holder knew he could compete at the highest level, but after overcoming challenges with his health, speed and technique along the way, last month’s victory was that much sweeter.
“The very last throw, I knew I had won, so it was crazy. But I was thinking I could still throw further,” Finley told the Post. “I wanted 65 (meters) again. … It was a mixture between, ‘I still want to push it further’ but ‘Oh my gosh, I’m an Olympian.’”
A proud Jayhawk and first-time Olympian, Finley joins other Jayhawks in Rio, including Team USA track and field manager Tim Weaver and triple jumper Andrea Geubelle, pictured above. He will enter the discus ring Friday morning for first round qualifying. Check NBCOlympics.com for schedules.
Several Jayhawks will be competing, working and volunteering during the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro for Team USA and their respective countries. Many have agreed to share their experience with KU alumni. Throughout the games, we’ll be sharing their photos and stories on our blog and social media accounts, so be sure to follow us during the games as we cheer on our #JayhawksinRio.
“Let the games begin!”
Andrea Geubelle is making the most of her first Olympic experience, taking it all in and having a great time.
Geubelle, who will compete for Team USA in the triple jump Saturday, provides a unique perspective on the games through her posts on Instagram. She posed with her former KU teammate and fellow Olympian Mason Finley (discus) during Olympic Team processing and shared video of the Olympic cauldron during the Opening Ceremonies.
Read her official Team USA bio at teamusa.org and follow her on Instagram at @a_geubelle.