Postcard from Beijing: U.S. track strikes gold

It took four days for the United States to win its first track and field gold medal of the Beijing Olympics — and then by someone not even on the radar screen of most prognosticators. Discus thrower Stephanie Brown Trafton, a San Luis Obispo native, took the lead with a 212-foot, 5-inch first throw at the Bird’s Nest stadium. That held up to end a 76-year USA title drought for any women’s throwing event. The only previous American golds came at the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics, in the discus and javelin.

“I had a far throw and nobody else stepped up,” the 6-foot-4 Brown Trafton said. “I won a gold medal! I almost started to cry on the victory lap.”

The 28-year-old Cal Poly grad had been the world leader much of the season, throwing a personal best 217-1 on May 5 at Hartnell College in Salinas, but placed third at the U.S. Trials. She currently lives in Galt and self-trains at Sacramento City College. I work with Brown Trafton, in my position of women’s track and field chair for USA Track and Field’s Pacific Association. She serves as our athletes’ chair.

Our association provided a training grant to help her prepare for the Olympics. She also won $1,700 in first-place money in the Pacific Association Grand Prix competition, which included the association championship meet at College of San Mateo.
It was a pleasure to see the region’s athlete support program pay off in gold. It may be the only American victory in a throwing event at these games.

San Francisco native and College of San Mateo sports information director Fred Baer is covering his ninth Olympic Games as a journalist and is providing The Examiner with a behind-the-scenes view of the Beijing Games.

Just Posted

Community-led efforts to monitor air quality in Bayview, Eastern neighborhoods gain traction

San Francisco community groups are working to install high-quality sensors in the… Continue reading

Homeless shelter opponents use attack as ammunition in fight against city

A week after being attacked outside her condo building near the Embarcadero,… Continue reading

Fire department drill finds traffic around Chase Arena could slow response time

For years, some have feared the future home of the Golden State… Continue reading

Did Scoot ‘redline’ SF neighborhoods? Chinatown group says ‘we asked for it’

The talk of the transportation world is a Los Angeles Times story… Continue reading

New hires solve SF school crossing guard shortage — for now

San Francisco has gone on a school crossing guard-hiring binge, hoping to… Continue reading

Most Read