Hammer Strength Standard: Olympian Chantae McMillan's Excellent Timing

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Chantae with a javelinIn the most pressure-filled moment of her track and field career, Chantae McMillan delivered—big time.

The stage was the U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene, Oregon in June 2012. McMillan spent most of 2011 recovering from an injury to her patella tendon, but still had her sights set on competing in the heptathlon at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

McMillan turned in a solid first day of competition, but her spot on the Olympic team depended upon a time in the 800-meter run that had to be close to her personal best.

“My point score came down to the 800,” said McMillan. “My coach told me I had to run 2:17 and that was a (personal record time) for me. I was like ‘oh my gosh, there's no way I can run a 2:17.’ Coming into the final 300 meters I kicked it, but I'll go back and watch that video and it does not look I started going any faster until like 100 meters later. But I crossed (the finish line) and saw my time (of 2:17.17) and just dropped and hit the floor and I was smiling, and I made the team.”

McMillan's time in the 800 was her fifth personal best performance in the seven heptathlon events at the trials. She also posted career bests in the 100-meter hurdles, 200-meter run, shot put and javelin. The result was a third-place overall finish and a trip to London with the U.S. Olympic team. She went on to place 29th at the 2012 Olympic games.

Honing Her Skills as a Husker

Athletic success has been the norm for McMillan. She was the Missouri state champion in the long jump in 2004 and 2005 while at Rolla High School. She attended the University of Nebraska as a long jumper but later decided to compete in the heptathlon. The switch was a good choice. As a Cornhusker, McMillan was four-time Big 12 Champion in combined events, and she earned All-American honors five times.

Developing New Skills for What's Next

McMillan, who lives in Missouri with her young son and husband, has given up the heptathlon and has shifted her focus to training for the javelin. The goal is another trip to the Olympics. This time, she's gunning for the 2020 games in Tokyo.

"Fitness in my life has always been about challenging myself to what limit can I get to next I guess," explained McMillan. "And that's where I am right now. So, I felt like I was done with the heptathlon. I was happy with where I got with that as an athlete. And now it's focusing on one of those events, javelin. And seeing how good I can get at it, essentially. It's just those small challenges that keep me going. Just seeing who's out there as a javelin athlete. How can I be better than that person? And be (just the second) female of America to get a medal at the Olympics in javelin.Training one day at a time is what's next for me. And then ultimately Tokyo 2020 is what's next."