By Rhonda Craig
Big 12 Campus Correspondent
Dick Cochran did it in 1960, Ben Plucknett in 1980, and Chris Cantwell in 2008. And while 2012 is still three years away, Missouri thrower Krishna Lee hopes to join the list of Mizzou athletes who worked their way into Olympic history and world record books.
To say Lee has had three successful seasons would be an understatement. She’s qualified for the NCAA Regional Championships for three consecutive seasons, was an eight-time All-Big 12 selection, and capped off last season with an unexpected, but welcomed, invitation to compete for a spot in the Beijing Olympics.
“My throw in shot put at the Big 12 Indoor Championships is what got me to the Olympic trials," she said. "The minimum qualifying mark for trials was 17 meters but because I hadn’t thrown 17 meters I didn’t think that I was going to make it.”
In spite of those inclinations, the stars were already aligning for Lee. When not enough athletes surpassed the 17-meter mark, the Olympic committee opened up the field to include 20 more throwers. Krishna was 18th on that list. Her coach supplied the good news via an early morning wakeup.
“I finished Nationals and I was in Kansas City spending time with my mom before I started my internship,” Lee said. “My coach called and said ‘Hey they opened up the field and you made it to trials, what do you think?’ and I said, ‘Well I think that’s awesome! Let’s go.’ He called me at nine o’clock in the morning and I was on a plane by 3 p.m.”
While her Olympic ride ended much sooner than she would’ve liked, Lee says it was by far the best athletic event she’d ever been to.
Aside from the Olympic trials milestone, Lee has also qualified for five events at the NCAA Championships, was a 2008 All America selection, and currently holds the school records for hammer throw and indoor shot put. Lee attributes her performance to having a strong frame of mind, which she says she has her family to thank for.
“(My mother) is my best friend, she’s constantly encouraging me, and telling me how much she’s proud of me, and she’s awesome. I’m fortunate to have a mother and family members like that,” said Lee.
Her records and numbers are well documented, but if you ask her mother, Kathleen Lee, she’ll tell you her daughter’s true strengths can’t be captured in a record book.
“She is my hero," Kathleen said. "She has the strength, character, she just has always had an incredible sense of knowing her self and being comfortable in her own skin and for a bi-racial child I think that is pretty unique. She’s never had any question about what race she belonged to or who she could be friends with, she was always just Krishna.”
A very family oriented Lee admits whenever she gets time away from track she tries to spend as much of it as possible with loved-ones.
“She has been my strength through some very difficult times in recent years," Kathleen said. "I almost sometimes feel like she’s raising me instead of me raising her, she just really has an upbeat attitude that puts you out of a funk. She is my best friend.”
After graduating in May, Lee plans to stay at Mizzou and work towards an MBA. Despite the fact that she will be putting in a considerable amount of hours at the training complex working towards the 2012 Olympics, Lee says it just won’t be the same.
“I’m gonna miss it, you know, not traveling with the team, I think I’m really starting to ‘cherish the moment’ as they say," she said. "With it being my last season and all I hadn’t thought about what it’s really gonna be like when I’m done.”
With only one more semester to go, Lee is hoping for her most productive season to date. If her winning toss of 62’-10.5” and winning shot put throw of 52’ in the season opener are any indication of what’s to come, she's off to a great start.
“My early season goals are more focused on focus and transitional throws between throws," Lee said. "I’ve had a lot of numbers that I’ve been focusing on for the latter part of the season and the outdoor season. I’m definitely shooting for 17 meters in the shot and over 20 meters in weight.”
Whether or not Lee will join the ranks of Missouri's Olympians is yet to be seen. However, some things are quite apparent - her technique is hard to match, her mindset is heart to muscle, and her heart is of Olympic gold.