Discus thrower Stephanie Brown Trafton proved she is ready to defend the stunning Olympic title she won in Beijing when she set a new U.S. record with a toss of 222 feet, three inches. She eclipsed the previous record of 222-0, set by Suzy Powell-Roos in 2007, on May 4 at the Altius TC Throwdown in Maui, Hawaii.
Ironically, Brown Trafton first became enthralled by the Olympics while watching Mary Lou Retton win Olympic gold in gymnastics near her home state of California. However, at 6'4" and 210 pounds, she is better built for her current sport. She earned a basketball scholarship to Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, but tore an ACL and switched to track and field. She finished 22nd at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, and was third at the U.S. trials in 2008. But in Beijing, she uncorked a winning throw of 212 feet, five inches, of which no other competitor came within a meter.
U.S. beach volleyball stars Phil Dalhausser and Todd Rogers are proving they're going to be the duo to beat at the Olympics. Last year, Dalhausser and Rogers set a mark for most wins in a season on the FIVB tour. Most recently, the team defeated fellow countrymen Jake Gibb and Sean Rosenthal 21-19, 22-24, 15-11 to win the Shanghai Grand Slam event in China on May 6. This marked the second straight year that Dalhausser and Rogers prevailed against their fellow U.S. teammates in the Shanghai final. Despite being 38-years-old, Rogers, known as The Professor, is playing better than ever.
The U.S. men's water polo team did not have the luck of the draw when FINA drew the groups for the Olympic tournament. The U.S., which lost to Hungary in the Olympic final four years ago, will play them again in its preliminary-round group in London. Also in their group are Serbia and Montenegro, two teams that clashed in the bronze-medal game, along with host Great Britain and Romania. The U.S. women drew a group with Hungary, Spain and China, while Italy and Australia, gold medalists at the previous two Olympics, were drawn into the other group.
The ever-evolving sport of sailing frequently changes which events are on the Olympic program; this week, the International Sailing Federation announced that kiteboarding will be added to the program at the Rio Games in 2016. The two-person mixed multihull event will replace windsurfing, which went the way of other classes such as Europe, Mistral, Windglider, Tempest and Tornado.
U.S. bobsled driver John Napier, 25, a sergeant in the National Guard, announced this week that he is retiring from the sport so he can pursue his goal of becoming a Navy SEAL. Napier, who was coached by his late father, William, was the winning driver at the U.S. national championships in 2009. A year later, he placed tenth in the two-man event with Steve Langton at the Vancouver Olympics.
While it's only a preliminary-round game, the U.S. hockey team defeated rival Canada 5-4 in overtime this week to earn a key victory at the world championships in Helsinki. Team captain Jack Johnson of the Columbus Blue Jackets scored the winner at 1:47 of OT and Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard made 30 saves. The U.S. team has never won the world championships, a tournament that now features 16 teams and is being contested this year in both Sweden and Finland. So far, the U.S. team has a 2-1 record, having also defeated France but lost to Slovakia.