Former Saluki thrower conquers Europe

Former Saluki thrower conquers Europe

By Jack Robinson

SIU alumna Jeneva McCall has competed in two international meets this month and came away with a gold medal.

Three-time National Collegiate Athletics Association champion Jeneva McCall traveled to Moscow, Russia to compete in the International Association of Athletics Federations World Championships. McCall, a 2012 graduate of SIU, competed in her second international contest of the month and finished ninth in the hammer throw. At her previous meet in Russia, McCall became the first American woman to ever medal in the hammer throw in international competition.

McCall came into the preliminaries as the favorite after she won the gold medal in the World University Games in July. McCall said she threw well in her preliminaries although rain impeded her time to throw. In her first heave, McCall threw a distance of 70.47 meters and then fouled on her second attempt. Her third and final throw was 69.14 meters, making her first throw of 70.47 meters enough to land her a spot in the finals.

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In the first round of the finals, McCall threw the hammer 72.33 meters to put her in third place. After three more rounds of finals, McCall peaked her throws at 72.65 meters, which was enough to put her into the top ten. McCall finished ninth and it was her third top ten finish in international competition in her 2013 athletic season.

Competing at an international level is much different than in NCAA athletics said McCall.

“There is a huge difference in competition because it’s much more intense and throwers have more experience,” she said. “In NCAA, you can do base training and get a top ten finish, with international meets you need a much bigger drive to make it.”

SIU throwing coach John Smith said McCall’s performance in Russia is extremely impressive because throwing is much bigger overseas than it is in the United States.

“She did it in a Russian meet which is even bigger, but the fact that she can compete over there is great,” he said. “For the Russians, jobs are on the line, you pay a price for not performing well.”

McCall has the background to compete at the highest level of track and field said Smith.

“Jeneva comes from a gifted family, her brother (Mika’il McCall) plays football at SIU,” he said. “She grew up in an atmosphere where competition was everything, so she came with toughness already built into her.”

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Gwen Berry, a 2011 graduate and McCall’s training partner said it’s rewarding to compete at McCall’s level.

“Anytime hard work transitions into success, then it makes it all worth it,” Berry said. “(McCall) is one of the hardest working throwers I know to this day.”

Berry said training with McCall has helped her and it is always exciting following each other’s success.

“There is never a dull moment between us, there is always something to laugh about,” she said. “We both want to do well in the season so as long as we are working hard we are in there together.”

McCall said her performance was not only for SIU but for the country as well.

“It was fantastic,” McCall said. “As a former SIU student, I feel great because everyone is happy about it. There is a long history with my coaches and I feel honored it climbs and grows with me. The win wasn’t just me, it was everyone.”

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