Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Discus thrower Will Conwell gets USATF Foundation grant...

INDIANAPOLIS - The USA Track & Field Foundation has presented Elite Athlete Development Grants to ten athletes, including former University of Washington discus thrower Will Conwell (left/photo by Paul Merca), Foundation Executive Director Tom Jackovic and Chairman Bob Greifeld announced Tuesday.

"One key aim of the USATF Foundation is to encourage American athletes to pursue their dreams of Olympic greatness," said USATF Foundation Director Chris Borch. "In the difficult process of selecting athletes to receive grants, we've seen there is never a shortage of talent or the willingness by athletes to sacrifice or work hard. Instead, the shortfall is almost always financial."

Since his graduation in 2006, Conwell has continued to train with University of Washington throws coach Reedus Thurmond and compete for Club Northwest, and he has steadily become one of the top discus throwers in the nation. At the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials, Conwell placed sixth in the discus with a mark of 202-feet, 7-inches and was just three feet shy of third-place and a spot on the Olympic roster.

The four-time letterwinner ranks among the finest discus throwers in UW history, with a collegiate-best of 200 feet, 1 inch that is Washington's fifth-longest ever.

The Kent, Wash., native closed his career with three-consecutive top-five finishes at the Pac-10 Championships, and an NCAA Championships berth in 2006. As a senior, he became just the 10th Husky men's athlete ever to be named a Pac-10 Conference Athlete of the Week after achieving his collegiate-best toss of 200-1 in San Diego. That mark ranked Conwell seventh in the 2006 collegiate rankings, and was the 12th-best by an American men's thrower last season.

Conwell saw significant improvement in his only year working with throws coach Reedus Thurmond, adding 23 feet to his previous lifetime-best during the 2006 season.

A 2001 graduate of Kentwood High School in Kent, Wash., Conwell originally attended Washington on a football scholarship before switching to track full-time in 2003. Conwell earned a bachelor's degree from Washington in 2006, and is currently pursuing graduate studies.

At last weekend's Mt. SAC Relays in Walnut, California, Conwell threw 184-3.

The Foundation Elite Athlete Grant Program contributes to the pursuit of world-class performances by American post-collegiate track and field athletes. Athletes must meet minimum performance standards to be eligible and must also participate in the Win With Integrity youth outreach program.

The USATF Foundation provides a means to attract and guide funds to new and innovative track and field programs with an emphasis on providing opportunities for youth athletes, emerging elite athletes and anti-doping education. The Foundation depends upon donations from its Board of Directors and from generous fans of track & field.

For more information or to contribute to the USA Track & Field Foundation, visit www.usatffoundation.org.

NOTE: USA Track & Field contributed to this report.

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