Saturday, September 28, 2019

Price Leads Q; Brooke Andersen Opens Up about Her Terrific Season on Day of Doha Disappointment

 by Mark Cullen
Copyright 2019 Mark Cullen and All rights Reserved.

DeAnna Price led all qualifiers in the women's hammer to remain the favorite going into Saturday's final. Gwen Berry joined her by finishing 10th among the 12 qualifiers, and Brooke Andersen, plagued by injury at the end of the season, ended her memorable 2019 run by finishing out of the top 12.

Price delivered a message before competition even began with a sector-splitting warmup toss that had to have left an impression on her competitors.

"It was really nice," she said. "That's how it's been; that's how we've been practicing."

DeAnna Price with husband/coach JC Lambert
Gwen Berry was pleased to advance even though she seemed a bit off her earlier season form. "I was a little nervous," she explained. "I feel like I should have warmed up a little more, maybe, because once we got into the call room we couldn't warm up, so I'll have to take that into consideration for tomorrow."

"I feel confident about tomorrow," she said. "I got in the ring and shook out the nerves, so I'll do better tomorrow."

In spite of a finish at Worlds that was clearly disappointing to her, at the close of Andersen’s magnificent year, she finds herself #3 on the US all-time list and #14 all-time world.

Said Andersen, "I've had some injuries come up the past few months just because it's been such a long season, so I’ve been dealing with that. Unfortunately, some of them acted up before my warmups...I haven't been able to practice the last few weeks as well as I would want to, just because of the injuries. Just dealing with a few owies!"

It means a lot to Andersen to have finished this season as #3 all-time US.

"Right now it's hard to think of all my great accomplishments this season because this was the one thing I was working towards all season and it didn't go how I pictured it. But I definitely had a great season overall and I'm really appreciative for the season I did have and all the accomplishments I did have along the way. Unfortunately, it's hard to see them right now - I'm just so bummed."

While her clear goal for 2020 is the Tokyo Olympics, "Right now I'll rest and take some time off and get back to it in a few weeks."

“Definitely making that Olympic team next year” is her #1 goal.

"I'm one of the youngest in the field," she reflected, and she takes away the knowledge that this World Championships experience can be of substantial benefit to her as early as next year.

“I'll take away the experiences like going through the motions like getting through the call room and only allowing a certain amount of warmups. It's always a little bit different in each international meet… It’s always good experiences that way, and then taking few warmups and seeing how it feels.

"I've gotta get used to the net being so far in," she said. “It doesn’t mess me up. I practice like that sometimes, also, just to get used to it. I just try to focus in the ring and not let the outside influences influence my mindset in the comp(etition).

“Just like the comp feel, even. Being here on this international stage - track feels way different than being at home in the US.

“Track is definitely more... they love track over here!

“It's great coming over here and the atmosphere - you get the whole stadium effect with all the people clapping for you. It's a really good experience for us to come over here and get all this international experience before Tokyo.

"The ring, when I tested it, felt faster than it did today, so it was a little funky for me. It felt a little bit slower. I didn't mind it so much; I just wasn't necessarily prepared for the switch up. I don't know if it was the humidity or what, because we came over the other night and it felt a little bit faster than today. But it's overall a great facility, definitely one of the better ones I've competed in so far internationally in my experience so far - in my rookie year!"

As for her throws, “The first one," she explained, "I was just trying to get an easy one because that’s usually what helps me relax when I first get in the comp, because the first time they call my name my heart is like beating out of my chest! The (next) one – I tried to go for it – and I just jumped it too fast, so on the third one I was falling into my third turn and I just had to dump it.

“It sucks to end on that one at my World Championships debut but I know I’ll be back for more.”

Andersen was particularly impressive in this interview – poised and generous with her time at a moment of great disappointment. Remarkable maturity and perspective with nothing but tremendous potential.

A long season comes to a close today in Khalifa Stadium. The United States sends the #4 (Price) and #5 (Berry) all-time to take on the world for remarkable possibilities: a US first medal, a US first gold medal, two medals and – hold on – gold and silver.

Said Price, “The practice in the last two weeks has been focused on getting the job done… It is a different day, a different time, a different feeling.”

What a feeling it would be for the United States if…

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