For one Olympian, the Navy can wait a few months
Mike Hazle will enlist in the U.S. Navy.
But before he does, the 2008 Olympic javelin thrower has some unfinished business at this summer's Olympics in London.
Hazle, a USANA athlete, was the 2011 U.S. champion, after four straight second-place finishes, but at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, he ranked a disappointing 25 of 37 competitors. The Texas State University standout expects a better result this time around. That is, if he even qualifies.
Hazle must finish in the top three at the Olympic trials to get a chance at redemption.
"It's all or nothing," he said. "The hay is coming into the barn so to speak."
That's a lot of pressure for someone who's put so much time and energy in to being great at what he does. Hazle doesn't see it that way, though.
"I'm too old for pressure," said Hazle, 33. "Pressure is something you create in your own mind."
A Texas native, Hazle is staying at the U.S. Olympic Center in Chula Vista, Calif., in preparation for the June 21 trials at Oregon University's Hayward Field. Qualifying for the javelin throw begins on June 23 with the finals taking place two days later.
If things go poorly, Hazle will be making the final throw of a career that has spanned more than a decade. Yet, Hazle is carrying the confidence of having been an Olympian and expects to make his last career throw in London. It would certainly be something out of a movie if Hazle retires with a medal around his neck and the Star Spangled Banner playing from the stadium's speakers.
In addition to the glory of winning an Olympic medal representing your country, there are other, more tangible gains.
"Financially, it would be a huge benefit," he said.
In many ways, being an Olympian comes with great sacrifice.
To be in top shape, Hazle must endure two training sessions per day, six days per week. During a typical training day, he'll eat five or six meals just to prepare himself for the six hours of training required -- not including preparation and recovery -- to be at his best.
"It's a full-time job," he said. "If you can't train to that level, then you put yourself at a disadvantage."
Hazle is ready for a new job, one with the U.S. Navy, but he has big plans before that.
"It'd be nice to be a two-time Olympian," Hazle said.