Jere' Summers is training in the Bay Area for the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
The London 2012 Summer Olympic Games are nearly a month away. Team USA is currently in the process of selecting the best athletes from all across the country in various sports.
While Olympic trials vary by state and by sport, one thing is for certain, a large number of competitors from the Bay Area have entered the U.S. Track & Field Olympic team trials that are being held in Eugene, Ore., through July 1.
According to USA Track & Field, several athletes from the East Bay will participate in the try-outs. Twenty-five-year-old Oakland native Jere' Summers is one of them. Summers is a discus thrower and competed in the qualifying round of the women's discus preliminaries throw on June 22.
"I'm a thrower," Summers said. "I'm just ready to make my mark and want to compete."
Summers attended Berkeley High School and did lacrosse, rugby and wrestling, before moving on to competing primarily, in the shot put and the discus throw.
Although she said she has thrown the hammer, the weight and the shot put in the past, to her the discus is easier on the body.
"I'm elite in all of these events," she said. "They all have their pros and cons. The hammer might be more fun to throw, but I've decided to just throw a discus."
In college, Summers competed in both indoor and outdoor events at Cal State Northridge and the University of Louisville. She graduated in 2010 and has achieved career bests both in college and in high school.
At Berkeley High, Summers was named to the Contra Costa Time Top 100 Prep Athletes Award list in 2003 and 2005. She also became a four-time CCAL league champion in the shot put and a three-time champion in the discus throw.
"American athletes don't really have an athletic career path," Summers said. "People struggle after college. Track & Field is an expensive sport. Now what keeps me going is to see how far I can go. I want to keep doing this until it doesn't make sense to keep going."
Another local Track & Field Olympic hopeful is Nkosinza Balumbu. Balumbu was born, raised and currently resides in Union City. His interest in track and field started at a pretty young age.
"I was the best jumper at my middle school,"Balumbu said. "Then I went to James Logan High School and while I had every school after me, I chose to go to the University of Arkansas because it had the top track and field program and the top coaches at that time."
Today, Balumbu is gearing up for the qualifying round of the Men's triple jump event on June 28.
"I have hurdled, long jumped, but right now in my career and at the elite level, I have to choose and give myself the best event," he said. "The triple jump is my bread and butter."
Balumbu also has a new outlook this year and is looking to improve from his finish at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials. That year, he was a junior in college and suffered a hamstring injury, which prevented him from making the final cut.
"Every athlete is going to experience setbacks and obstacles," he said. "Unfortunately, my injury got the best of me and I didn't make the finals. But now, I have a way better chance because I'm healthy."
Unlike Summers and Balumbu, Vashti Thomas is still in school and will be competing in two track and field events. She is currently attending the Academy of Art University in San Francisco and will participate in the Women’s 100m hurdles and the Women’s long jump on June 29.
"Right now, I’m trying to get my hurdle technique and jump technique together," Thomas said. "I’m just working on some major and minor things."
Born in San Jose, Thomas’ introduction to the sport of track and field is quite similar to that of Summers and Balumbu. All three athletes were inspired and motivated by their high school coaches.
"My high school coach told me that I was talented and got me started," Thomas said. "I just want to be the best. I’ve been running for eight years. My all time goal is winning that Olympic gold."
One of the reasons why Thomas said she decided to compete in the two different events is because she enjoys doing them both and could not have picked one over the other.
"I like them both equally the same,” she said. "I just know that I couldn’t do one without the other."
Still, according to Charles Ryan, the head coach of the Academy of Art University's Track & Field team, the reason why Thomas can do both events is because she is a special young woman and is physically gifted.
"She is a tough competitor,” Ryan said. "She is a leader and always rises to the occasion. She has a vibrant personality and everything she does is genuine."