To win a gold or silver medal at the London Olympics, Jill Camarena-Williams needed to throw the shot put about 68 feet, nothing less. Even when you are the American- record holder, as Camarena-Williams is, a throw of 68 feet is a life-changing, money-in-your-bank-account, name-in-the-record books distance.

A few days before flying to Europe, working with her coach, the UA’s Craig Carter, Camarena-Williams unleashed two prodigous throws at Drachman Stadium. Carter measured them at roughly 68 feet 6 inches, and 68 feet 4 inches.

Everything changed.

“All along, our goal was just to medal,” Carter says. “But those throws told us she could contend for anything, even the gold. She had big goals and I had big goals for her.”

Most publications and track analysts predicted Camarena-Williams to win the bronze medal, a bit behind New Zealand’s Valerie Adams and Belarus’ Nadzeya Ostapchuk.

“I was going to be the first American woman to win a (shot put) medal in 30 years,” Camarena-Williams said Wednesday. “I had been training so well; I had some amazing practice throws that would’ve won the gold. I was on the brink.”

And then, almost cruelly, at the worst time imaginable, her back began to hurt. She had difficulty moving her left foot. Ultimately, betrayed by a herniated disk, she would watch the women’s Olympic shot put finals from the bleachers with her mom and dad.

Read more about Camerena-Williams in Friday's Arizona Daily Star.