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Dartmouth's Furey Following the Manual in Javelin

Aug 09, 2016   |   by Greg Fennell   |   Valley News

Sean Furey
Sean Furey prepares to unleash his winning throw in the javelin at the U.S. track and field championships in Eugene, Ore., Thursday, June 25, 2015. (AP Photo/Don Ryan)

Sean Furey '04, Th'05, '06 will likely never be one of those husbands who puts institutional memory over the value of a good instruction manual.

For one, the newest addition to his and wife Mattie’s lives, infant son Matthan, born April 20, came without a how-to guide. The Fureys will have to feel their way through this one.

Furey’s second trip to the Olympics, however, came about because he followed directions. The Dartmouth graduate nailed the Olympic A standard to qualify for Rio last year days after the qualification window opened. By doing so, Furey was able to tolerate the frustrations of injuries and poor throws at last month’s U.S. Olympic Trials in Oregon to make the team for Brazil.

“It definitely was a lot of lucky, but that was my long-term plan after 2012,” Furey said in a recent phone interview from San Diego, where he and his wife live and work. “I planned to hit the A standard on the first day because I didn’t want to think of it in an Olympic year. I 100 percent knew what that meant and what I was doing. That was part of the plan, and I executed that part.”

Furey graduated with a bachelor’s degree in engineering and a master’s in engineering management from Dartmouth in 2005. The 33-year-old approaches javelin preparation with the same attention to detail he does in his part-time work at Raytheon, where he develops network enclosure and strengthening systems for the U.S. Navy.

Slowed by a back injury at the time, Furey missed out on a top-three spot on the American roster at trials for the London Games by one slot, but he leapfrogged onto the team because he’d hit the Olympic A standard where others hadn’t. The plan worked before, so Furey stuck with it again as Rio de Janeiro beckoned.

“I think you get it ingrained in your head going into school and being in the world that you’ve got to read the instructions,” said Furey, who concentrated on track and field at Dartmouth after quarterbacking his Methuen (Mass.) High School football team as a teen. “Part of knowing how to qualify for teams is reading the instructions and knowing the requirements. I do that more than the average javelin thrower.”

Furey needed an 83-meter toss once the Rio qualifying window opened to set the foundation for his second Olympic bid. He hit 83.08 meters — 272 feet, 7 inches, a personal record — to win last year’s national championship in Eugene, Ore.

In fact, the three campaigns leading up to this summer were what Furey called “the best seasons of my life,” highlighted by his second IAAF World Championship meet, traveling to Beijing to compete last August. Although his best toss of 246 feet didn’t get him to the finals, the combination of the worlds trip and the PR at nationals indicated big things on the horizon.

But as with London, Furey’s run-up to Rio hasn’t been without setbacks. On top of shoulder soreness that he said is common with javelin athletes, Furey tore a calf muscle at a meet six weeks before last month’s Olympic trials, which essentially put him on the training shelf at the time he needed to be most fit.

“With the javelin, the whole throw is over in half a second,” said Carl Wallin, Furey’s throwing coach at Dartmouth. “You have to come running down the runway really fast, then put that left leg down stiff — that stops it — and follow through. It’s an event where it’s pretty easy to get injured if you’re a little off.”

Furey won his qualifying flight at the University of Oregon last month with an “easy” throw of 250-2, as he put it, second-best among the two dozen competitors. The finals were another matter: Between lingering aches and poor technique, Furey bowed out at the first cut and finished 11th overall.

When only two other athletes (Sam Crouser and Trials winner Cyrus Hostetler) came in with Olympic A standard throws on their CVs, Furey had his second trip to the Games all set — just as the instruction manual said it might.

“I guess my luck hasn’t run out yet,” Furey said. “It’s not the way I wanted to make the team, but I’m past that and I think it’s probably the only way it should have happened.

“If I’d had to take more throws, my shoulder would have been hurting because I would have had to work so hard two days in a row for competition. I made it out of the Trials in great shape.”

And he’s thankful for it.

“I’m excited; this has been my goal for four years, to make it back to the Olympics,” Furey said. “How this season has worked out hasn’t been how I planned, but I feel like I’m getting healthy and into competitive shape at the right time. Sometimes I can’t believe how lucky I am to have another opportunity to compete at the Olympics.”

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