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article imageChatting with Mac Wilkins: Olympic gold medalist discus thrower Special

By Markos Papadatos     Jan 30, 2019 in Sports
On January 30, 2019, Olympic gold medalist discus thrower and former world record holder Mac Wilkins chatted with Digital Journal about his illustrious track and field career.
Wilkins has been coaching shot put and the discus throw since he was a sophomore in college. Regarding his plans for 2019, he said, "I have a group of clients that I continue to coach. We have a contract through the Tokyo Olympics and this is our first year together."
In 1976, Wilkins claimed the gold medal in the Olympic Games in Montreal, and in 1984, he took home the silver medal at the Olympic Games in Los Angeles. "It was a whole lot of fun," he recalled, about his gold medal. "Eight years later, I won a silver medal, and four years after that, I was fifth in Seoul, Korea," he said.
Throughout his accomplished career in track and field, he set the world record in the men's discus throw four times. In 1994, he was inducted into the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame. "It is always nice to be recognized by your hometown, so to speak, and the people where you grew up," he said.
Aside from the discus throw, Wilkins was the 1977 national indoor champion in the men's shot put with a personal best of 21.06 meters. His personal best in the men's discus throw is 70.98 meters, which he set in 1980 in Helsinki, Finland. In 1993, the three-time Olympian was inducted into the USA Track and Field Hall of Fame.
On the key to longevity in track and field, Wilkins said, "In the last 40 years, people have gotten a lot smarter about their training, and making things sustainable, especially the human body. There is more awareness these days from a financial standpoint, otherwise, nobody is going to do this job. It's a tough job to do for free."
When asked to reflect on the last four decades, in a rear-view mirror, Wilkins said, "There are a lot of signs that the sport is dying, but there are also young people that have a passion for the sport and that's what keeps it going forward."
For aspiring discus throwers and shot putters, he said, "Learn and understand the technique. The technique of throwing the discus is very similar to hitting a golf ball. Throwing a discus or a shot put requires huge strength and maximum effort every time, and that's not how you hit a golf ball far. It's the relaxation and the timing of the golf swing that is so important to the discus throw or the shot put."
Wilkins shared that he met American running legend Steve Prefontaine at the University of Oregon as a freshman. "For Steve Prefontaine, his racing and competitions always came down to who could stand more pain. He wanted to show you that he can take more pain than you could, and therefore, he was going to win," he said.
Digital transformation of track and field
On the impact of technology on track and field, Wilkins said, "Technology is helpful. There are always small details that you can pick up with this analysis that you can't see with your eye. Generally, the biomechanical analysis confirms what the coach already senses."
Wilkins shared that he uses the app, Coach's Eye Sports Video Analysis App, which allows him to shoot video, and show it immediately to the athlete. "It works really well," he admitted.
The acclaimed coach, Olympian and former world record holder defined the word success as "learning and growing." "Everyone can have success," he said.
To learn more about Olympic gold medalist and coach Mac Wilkins, check out his official website.
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