If there ever was a time for Gia Lewis-Smallwood to deviate from her training diet, Sunday night was it.
To celebrate her gold medal in the discus at the U.S. track and field championships in Des Moines, Iowa, the former Illini and Centennial High star splurged at one of her favorite fast-food joints, Red Robin.
“I went with a guacamole bacon burger with fries,” Lewis-Smallwood said. “It was the perfect celebration.”
A participant at the London Olympics — she failed to advance out of the qualifying round — Lewis-Smallwood intends to contend at the Rio Games in 2016. Sunday’s jaw-dropping performance — a Drake Stadium record toss of 213 feet, 8 inches — confirmed her status as one of the event’s best.
Next up: the World Championships in August in Moscow.
“This one was special, this one was huge,” Lewis-Smallwood said. “The USA Championships are incredibly tough. The joke is that it’s harder to get out of the U.S. than it is getting to the Olympic finals. It’s so incredibly competitive.”
At 34, Lewis-Smallwood continues to improve. Working under UI men’s coach Mike Turk, her Sunday effort was a personal best.
She’ll be 37 for the Rio Games.
“Discus is the only thing in track and field that you can be a little older in,” she said. “What I’m doing is not necessarily normal but not abnormal, either. There are women who are 40 and still kicking butt (in discus).”
Sunday’s throw ranks sixth best in the world.
“What the win did for me was it helps my world ranking and gets me into meets where I’m constantly seeing Olympic champions all the time,” she said. “It helps position yourself so you feel more normal when you compete against the best. It’s a huge step for me, a big, big accomplishment.”