Furey Heads to the Olympics
July 30, 2012
On August 8, Sean Furey '04, Th'05, '06 will compete in the Men's Javelin Throw for an Olympic medal. The 29-year-old San Diego resident, originally from Methuen, MA, finished 12th in the World Championships in 2009, and went on to win the U.S. National Championships in 2010, before placing fourth in the Olympic trials. Furey found a few minutes before heading to London to talk to us about attending Thayer, preparing for the games, and the benefits of being an engineer and an athlete.
How did you prepare physically and mentally for the Olympics?
Leading up to my departure for London on July 31, I followed the same high-intensity, low-volume training schedule that I use in the regular season, while continuing to work at my regular part-time job as a defense contractor for Raytheon. That routine involves swimming, sprinting, lifting, doing gymnastics, flexibility training, and mostly throwing. My personal best is 82.73 meters, and that ranks me in the middle of the pack—about 16th in the world. I'm one of about 50 in the preliminary round competing for 12 spots to move on in the competition.
I am just as nervous as I would be for any of the top American or world meets. The aura around the Olympics could add pressure, but I think I'm doing a good job of keeping that out of my head and focusing on how to execute my throws. Since I was in high school I have been a good thrower, managing to win a couple of state championships. I always knew I could be one of the best throwers in the world—if you want to make it to the Olympics, you have to believe you can be the best.
Can you talk about experiences or individuals at Thayer who shaped your career as both an athlete and an engineer?
I still use the statistics and technical estimation skills I learned from Ron Lasky, both at Raytheon and in my javelin career. Thayer forced me to stick to a very rigid schedule, and to eliminate procrastination. I actually enjoy that I get a mental break from javelin when I'm working and from work when I'm training.
How do your worlds as an engineer and an athlete cross?
Just being able to think like an engineer—to make quick decisions and do quick calculations—gives me an advantage in the javelin. For five years I have recorded all kinds of information in training journals, from the number of throws I make, distances, and the weights of the implements I throw, to technical cues such as the position of my leg. This allows me to go back and see what worked for me and what didn't. Using a training journal is common, but most don't record in the level of detail that I do, and unlike most, I am able to understand what is truly a trend versus a coincidence.
What was it like working on the Turbo Javelin for your ENGG 390: M.E.M Project?
Tom Petranoff owns a company called Turbo Javelin that makes training javelins, which are basically injection molded three-foot spears that replicate the flight of a javelin. Tom asked us to come up with research on how to make a low-cost training javelin that breaks down into smaller pieces. He was looking for an indoor training tool that was easy to produce and travel with, and inexpensive. We came up with a report that met his criteria, and after a few iterations of the material research we did he developed the training javelin.
It was a fun project and amazing to work so close to something I am so passionate about. Thayer teaches you to find something you're passionate about—your own problem—and solve it.