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Jeff Kolpack, Published July 21 2012

Timing will be key for Smock at the Olympics

St. Paul - It was a bright, sunny, almost perfect day at the track and field complex at Macalester College. The small school just off Snelling Avenue in St. Paul has been the professional venue for Amanda Smock. It’s her post-graduate Ellig Sports Complex.

School officials let her use their facilities and never asked a question. Contrary to most days, she had her triple jump training partner – former Olympian and close friend, Shani (Marks) Johnson – working with her.

They met when Smock attended the U.S. Track and Field Trials in her last year at North Dakota State in 2004.

On this day, they go through their warmups like two sorority sisters who hadn’t seen each other for months. There are more laughs than stretches.

“A lot of her success goes back to Shani,” said Greg Smock, Amanda’s husband and also part-time workout partner. “Shani took Amanda under her wing.”

But when it came time for business, the performance bulb went on. Training, purposely light, mostly consisted of a 20-minute warmup and eight jumps.

Smock notched her Olympic qualifying jump on June 25. The qualifying round in the Olympic Games is set for Aug. 3 – more than a month after the Trials.

The question: Can she peak again?

“I hang on to my same peak from the Trials,” Smock said. “It’s the same training plan that I’ve used the past few years. It’s worked before and I have confidence in that.”

It worked last year when she had a personal-best jump six weeks after winning the event at the U.S. Championships. It’s going to have to work even better if she wants a chance to medal in the Olympics.

The competition is stiff.

Sixty-four women have registered better jumps so far this year, according to rankings compiled by International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF). Olha Saladuha of the Ukraine has the top leap of 14.99 meters, or 49 feet, 2 inches.

Smock’s best is 13.94, or 45 feet, 9 inches. That was her qualifying leap at the Trials. Her personal best is 46-6 set last year, according to USA Track & Field. That number is more than three feet from her NDSU school record.

“If you look at those marks, it doesn’t seem likely,” said NDSU head coach Ryun Godfrey, who has followed Smock’s career closely since she left college. “I don’t know what her goals are, but I know she’s not too far from the American record, and that’s probably a big focus for her. And if you get in the finals, that’s a big accomplishment.”

The U.S. record is 47-5 by Tiombe Hurd set in the 2004 U.S. Trials.

To prepare, Smock flew to England almost two weeks ago for a pair of warmup competitions, one in Poland this weekend.

She plans on remaining in Olympic Village until the closing ceremonies, advice that she took from Marks, who competed in the 2008 Games.

After that, Smock said there are no plans as to her triple jumping future.

“I’m thinking one more year, but I can’t commit to that,” she said.


Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be reached at (701) 241-5546. Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia

Kolpack is the host of the WDAY Golf Show Saturdays from 8-9 a.m. on 970-AM.