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Marysville's Rome captures USA Track and Field discus title
MARYSVILLE — Jarred Rome can heave a 4.4-pound discus half the length of a football field. Perhaps that’s why he’s one of the best discus throwers in the world.
The Marysville-Pilchuck alumnus and 2004 Olympian proved that when he won his second national title at the USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships held June 24, in Eugene, on the campus of the University of Oregon.
“It was a very exciting day,” said Rome, who placed 14th in the preliminary round in the 2004 Olympics. “I was trying to stay calm at nationals but that’s a hard thing to do when you’re coming from behind.”
Rome’s fourth-round 209-foot, 11-inch throw propelled him past four competitors and landed in the winner’s circle — earning him a slot on the USA World Team. The top three competitors in each event made the team.
“I have made a lot of teams in my 19 years of competing,” Rome said. “So this was very important to me. It helps my confidence.”
Rome will compete in his fourth annual World Outdoor Championships in Daegu, South Korea, beginning Aug. 27 to Sept. 4. He finished 11th in Berlin at the 2009 World Championships.
“There have been years when I’ve been No. 3 in the world and No. 1 in the states,” the 6-foot, 4-inch Rome said. “I am expected to win and not finish second. So it feels great to win here at nationals.”
Unlike previous seasons, Rome was unable to train the way he’s accustomed to. He decided to take care of a nagging knee injury that he suffered 10 years ago. So in September Rome underwent knee surgery which benched him for five months. Instead of starting his training in November, he waited until February.
“I haven’t been seriously injured once in 19 years,” he said. “So I was really concerned about entering nationals with such little training time. I didn’t know what to expect after surgery. It was going to be a big gamble.”
Fortunately for him the surgery went well. In fact, his five-month training period went better than he imagined. It was his best training in recent memory and he feels stronger than ever, he said.
His sterling performance in Eugene came as no surprise to his longtime fans.
“I knew he’d win and he did,” 29-year-old Austin Reynolds said. “My dad started taking me to see meets at Marysville-Pilchuck when I was 12. He definitely stood out. To this day, I follow him on the Internet. I hope he comes back home and shares his knowledge and skills with our youth.”
So what’s next for Boise State’s six-time discus and shot put All-American? Well, he’s off to compete in a meet in Madrid, Spain. From there he travels to Germany and Sweden.
“Fortunately and unfortunately I have to travel a lot,” he said. “The really big track and field events happen in Europe. Track and field is huge there unlike it is here in the states. It’s like soccer there.”
At 34 years old, Rome’s career could last at least another six years. As an Olympian and national champion, he’s eligible to live in the USA Training Center located just outside San Diego.
“It’s the best training center in the world,” Rome said. “Discus throwers are at their best in their mid-30s. The world’s second best thrower is 41 years old. So I am far from being done and I attribute that to the training center.”
However, when his celebrated career does come to an end, Rome plans on returning to Marysville where he’d like to start coaching.
“Jarred would be an excellent coach,” said Reynolds, who, like his father, will take his two kids to meet the guy who inspired him to take up track and field in high school. “Kids need people like Jarred to lead them and teach them how to be a good person and to appreciate sports.”