Despite injury setbacks in 2020, Dani Stevens won a record 14th national title for discus throw to qualify for a fourth Olympic Games in Tokyo later this year.
Due to the postponement of the Olympics last year, Stevens was able to prioritise recovery of a spinal injury without worrying about results on the Olympic stage.
Stevens told The Inner Sanctum that she’s proud that she was able to make a fourth Olympics and is grateful for the additional time.
“This one was probably the hardest to make, but the one I’m most proud of and the one that I’ll sit back and look at the effort I’ve made to get here and to make it,” she said.
“Last February I couldn’t lift my right arm. I’m a right-handed discus thrower, so that was really hard.
“It was timed with COVID lockdowns last year, last March and April. For me, the timing was good, because we got put in the garage, and I wasn’t lifting any weight, and then the Olympics got postponed, so I’m very grateful for more time.
“I was selected. But I probably wouldn’t have thrown 50m. I’m very grateful for more time.”
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In Tokyo Stevens will be looking to best her previous fourth-place finish at the 2016 Rio Olympics with a throw of 64.90m. Since her injury, the 32-year-old is aiming to return to the form that saw her throw 69.64m at the 2017 World Championships.
At the Australian Athletics Championships Stevens’ winning throw travelled 62.74m, setting her on the right track for Tokyo.
Heading to her fourth Olympics, Stevens is the most experienced member of the track and field athletes named in the Australian team and will be considered to be a leader amongst her fellow athletes.
When discussing leadership, Stevens celebrated the depth in Australian athletics and the quality of the team going to Tokyo.
“I guess… the more you have under your belt, the more you are looked for leadership,” she said.
“It’s really exciting that we have so many debutants, and so many exciting performances from those guys, but also from the multiple Olympians, those who are going to their second and third.
“It’s exciting because it shows the depth in athletics, and it’s great to have such a quality team.
“This will be my fourth, I’ve been to three and each of them has been different from each other. I guess if anyone wants to learn how to adapt, this will be a fantastic experience for them.”
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