Getting back in the ring for an Olympic dream

FRESNO, Calif.

Sharon Ayala's goal is to compete in next summer's Olympic Games in London. She's armed and ready to become one of the nation's top hammer throwers.

Almost two years after finishing a stellar track and field career at Fresno State, two-time All-American hammer thrower Sharon Ayala finds herself back on campus, back in the ring, working harder than ever.

"I was very successful here. So I'm very grateful just for having support and having facilities to train in," said Ayala. "That's definitely something very important to me."

When she's not working at one of her two jobs, Ayala is listening, studying, and at times debating with her former throws coach at Fresno State, Lisa Misipeka.

"Sharon is an amazing competitor. And whatever cards she's dealt, she'll make the best of it," said Misipeka. "She'd probably be an amazing spades player."

Her goal is to compete in the London Olympics next summer - but for which country? She holds dual citizenship, and is a Mexican National Champion. But she would like to finish top three for the United States.

Ayala said, "I think honestly if I really devote my time to doing this and really specializing in this particular sport, I think next year, I'll be at the Olympics for sure."

It's going to take a throw of at least 70 meters to medal - Ayala's personal best is 67 - or around 218 feet.

"Definitely with how I see and just forecast things happening, I think 70 meters is right around the corner," said Ayala. "Honestly."

But after bouncing back from quadriceps surgery and armed with a new throwing motion, both Ayala and Misipeka, see a medal in London as a realistic goal.

"Avenal has an opportunity to have an amazing woman and athlete and person represent their town," said Misipeka. "That's what's so special."

"With the new technique that I'm getting to, and with everything coming around, I'm extremely happy," said Ayala. "I'm in a good place right now in my life."

Amazing to think it could get even better next summer on an Olympic track and field medal podium.

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