Tucson Elite Classic: Discus thrower breaks Ritchie's 32-year mark

2013-05-19T00:00:00Z Tucson Elite Classic: Discus thrower breaks Ritchie's 32-year markDaniel Gaona Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
May 19, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Gia Lewis-Smallwood already had plenty of reasons to love the Tucson Elite Classic before Saturday.

Now she has another.

The 34-year old Champaign, Ill., native threw the discus 214 feet 10 inches to break the 32-year-old Roy P. Drachman Stadium record of 211-5 3/4 set in 1981 by seven-time Scottish champion Meg Ritchie, a former UA star.

Lewis-Smallwood's winning mark came on her third throw of the evening. It set a new personal best and locked up her fourth title at the UA-hosted meet that showcases the best throwers and jumpers in the nation.

"I would cry if they cancelled this meet," said Lewis-Smallwood, who threw in for Team USA in the 2012 London Games. "This is my absolute favorite meet of the year.

"There are so many people around the ring being supportive. They're all throwers too, they know you and they want you to do well and because of that the atmosphere is so incredible and most throwers throw something big every year."

Lewis-Smallwood also won the women's discus on Thursday (204-5), and she and went out with a bang Saturday, throwing 214-1 on her sixth and final toss.

"I've been working on putting some things together that were eluding me so today I actually put them together," she said. "Finally some things that were, in pieces great, but I couldn't put them together, I put them together."

Since last summer when she competed in the London Games, Lewis-Smallwood has been on a roll. Although she finished 15th in the qualifying round and didn't advance to the finals she said it taught her so much.

"That changed my life," she said. "It changed my outlook on throwing, it changed my training, it changed everything about what I do.

"That was one of the single greatest experiences of my life, and I was filled with so much hope and so much desire that I didn't want to take any time off. I was so motivated by it."

One of the biggest things she took out of her trip was improving her technique.

That's also something that made a difference on Saturday from Thursday as she perfected her blocking the front, or keeping her left leg straight, at the perfect time.

"I'd either time it late or time it early or not do it," Lewis-Smallwood said. "So today I kind of got a feeling for it."

Lewis-Smallwood, a University of Illinois graduate, hopes this is only another building block for her.

She has competed on the national level since 2000 and finished in the top three at the outdoor championships in 2010 and 2011.

However, some of her best memories have come from the Tucson Elite Classic, where she first hit the World A standard of 203-4 and has set multiple personal records.

"Every time it has a different meaning," she said.

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