Ron White spent what was likely the 14 least enjoyable hours of his life to spend two of the most exciting weeks of his life half a world away.
The senior javelin thrower spent most of Monday flying to Bejiing, China to represent the United States in the World University Games.
“I don’t think we was looking forward to the flight so much,” men’s head track coach Tom Akers said. “But he was really excited to get over there and compete well and enjoy the experience which is a good attitude.”
White, who could not be reached Monday, earned a third place finish at the U.S. Championships earlier this year with a throw of 238 feet, good enough to send him to Bejiing, the site of the 2008 Olympic Games.
“The selection of the team was based upon the finishes in the U.S. Championships, which included pro athletes as well as college amateurs,” Akers said. “Ron finished third at the U.S. Championships and was the top collegiate competitor. The top two college competitors from the U.S. Nationals are invited to the World University Games.”
White will spend two weeks in China, throwing in a preliminary round Aug. 30 with the javelin finals scheduled for Sept. 1.
“I’m not sure how he’ll measure up on the world scene at the university level,” Akers said. “Generally, the U.S. is a little behind the rest of the world in the javelin.”
After redshirting last spring to have an additional year of training before his fifth and final year of college, White gained a valuable experience this summer.
“Tom Pukstys, the U.S. record holder in the javelin, came down for one of our camps this summer and he and Ron had the opportunity to get an afternoon of work in together,” Akers said. “That was a really good opportunity for him.”
Pukstys, a six-time U.S. Champion, finished second in the U.S. Championships this summer, one spot in front of White.
“From the first time he saw Ron throw he said, `Wow. This kid’s got a rocket arm,'” Akers said. “He pointed out some things to really work hard on, but he thought if Ron continues to progress he’ll be a hopeful for the U.S. in 2004.”