Former University of Washington discus thrower Aretha Hill Thurmond made her fourth Olympic team Sunday by finishing second at the U.S. Track & Field Trials in Eugene. Hill, a 1998 Washington graduate who attended Renton High School, had a top toss of 204-2.
The 5-foot-10, 235-pound, Thurmond, who currently resides in Opelika, AL., had a chance to win heading into the final round of throws, but after Stephanie Brown Trafton’s heave of 213-10, Thurmond fouled. Trafton won the gold medal at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.
Thurmond also represented the U.S. in 1996 at Atlanta, in 2004 in Athens and in Beijing.
Thurmond’s series of throws included 203-6, foul, foul, 196-6, foul, 204-2 and foul.
Thurmond is just the fourth athlete born in Washington to make four Summer Olympic teams, following track and field sprinter Gail Devers (five) in 1988, 1992, 1996, 2000 and 2004; fencer Maxine Mitchell (four) in 1952, 1956, 1960 and 1968; and shooter Matt Dryke (four) in 1980, 1984, 1988 and 1992.
Devers, born in Seattle in 1966, grew up in National City, CA. Mitchell, born in 1917 in Leroy, is a member of the U.S. Fencing Hall of Fame. Dryke, born in 1958 in Port Angeles, won a gold medal at the 1984 Los Angeles Games in skeet. The 1980 Olympic team that Dryke made did not compete in the Games due to a U.S. boycott.
Thurmond has never won an Olympic medal, but she is a four-time U.S. outdoor champion (2003-04, ’06, ’08) and a two-time Pan Am Games gold medalist (1999, 2003).
Thurmond threw for Washington between 1995-98 and was a four-time All-American. She has a lifetime best throw of 216-1, the third-longest throw in U.S. history, while her Washington best of 215-3 is second-best by a collegian.
Another former Husky, long jumper Norris Frederick, failed Sunday in his attempt to qualify for the Olympics. Frederick, who competed at Washington from 2004-07, had a best long jump of 26-1, good for fifth. Frederick was attempting to make his first Olympic team.