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Hartington grad just misses out on her Olympic dream

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HARTINGTON — Michaela Dendinger may not be heading to Tokyo for this summer’s Olympic games, but she sure did make quite the effort.

Dendinger, a Hartington native, traveled to Eugene, Ore., last weekend, and the home of Tracktown USA, and threw a 66.43-meter throw good enough for 10th place in the hammer throw Olympic qualifying final, but not what she needed to book her trip to Japan.

The top three will represent the United States at this year's Tokyo Olympics.

“I am very lucky to have competed with the best field of hammer throwers the United States has seen,” Dendinger said. “I am lucky to have so much support in this journey. I am naturally disappointed that I did not perform my best at trials, but I am so happy for this experience. I am looking forward to the years to come to see how I develop.”

On Thursday, Dendinger threw the hammer 67.98 meters to head into the finals with an eighth-best number, just under five feet out from a top three spots at the time.

“This mark is the second-best mark on my season,” Dendinger said after the round. “The United States Olympic team is one of the hardest teams to qualify for. So, to be in this field with the top hammer throwers and trying, is a blessing in itself.”

Prior to the finals throw, Dendinger said anything can happen in a final and she needed to stay relaxed and enjoy the moment.

“No matter what happens, I am proud of where I am,” she said.

Now Dendinger will get back to it, as she prepares for another run in 2024 when the Paris Olympics come calling.

“After that, I will have to reevaluate and make more plans,” Dendinger said. “I plan on staying in Vermillion (S.D.) to continue my training with coach A.G. Kruger. Now that I have graduated, after eight years, I am excited to put my training at a higher priority. While in school, my academics took priority. The balance between occupational therapy school and training as an elite athlete was extremely difficult at times. But however difficult times got, I would do it all over again.

“I was so fortunate to have the support from family, friends and my coach to chase after two dreams at once: being an occupational therapist and an elite athlete. I am excited to see the progress that I will make being able to direct more attention to my training. I am ready to get back to work in the circle and see where the rest of this journey leads me.”

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