Lucais MacKay grew up in the sport of Track and Field. He was raised by a track coach in the town of Modesto, CA, home of the one of the premier meets in the 1980′s and 90′s, the S&W Relays. He participated in football, basketball, swimming, volleyball and track through his youth and graduated high school as the #1 ranked discus thrower in the US. He was also an All-American in the Shot put and Hammer. He attended the University of Southern California on a football scholarship, transferred to Moorpark Community College to play football, basketball and track, and then went on to the University of Georgia to continue with track alone. He won a NCAA title in 2003 in the hammer throw and ended his career as a six-time All-American.
Since 2005, he has competed as a professional hammer thrower and has been ranked in the Top 10 in the U.S. for six years. He now lives and trains in Eugene. The 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials will be his third attempt at making the Olympic Team and he is excited and vocal about his goals and expectations…
What initially drew you to Eugene to train? Are you part of a group? Who is coaching you now?
Eugene, OR has held a mystique for me since I was a kid. My father, a track and field coach, had photos of great athletes on his office wall. One of those images was Mac Wilkins throwing the discus. I immediately fell in love! Mac attended the University of Oregon; therefore I had to see what it was all about. I first set foot on Hayward Field when I was 15 years old & HAD to live here.
After 7 seasons bouncing around as a professional thrower, I decided, enough is enough, packed up my car and drove from Ventura County, CA to Eugene, OR.
I joined the Oregon Track Club upon my arrival in Eugene to pay homage to my heroes that have done the same. I am currently being coached by Stuart Togher, the Scottish/American curmudgeon genius, who coached Lance Deal to an Olympic silver medal in Atlanta (1996).
Were you training in Eugene in 2008 last time the Trials were here? Did you compete in them?
I had not yet moved to Eugene in 2008, but had rented a 1-bedroom apartment for the month of June to become more entrenched in the town, hoping for inspiration and a PR. I cherished my time in Eugene during the Olympic Trials, taking in the weather, floating the Willamette River, renting a bike, and finding local coffee shops and eateries to enjoy. I failed to make the final, and was devastated but knew there was untapped potential below that result.
Tell us a little about how your attitudes and expectations now, after the past four years, might be different coming into this meet than they were going into that one.
After 2004, I became increasingly bitter towards the sport of Track & Field, feeling that I deserved some support for my efforts. After winning a NCAA title for Georgia in 2003 and becoming the first American to win a hammer title since 1973, I realized I was a man on an island. Over the past 8 years I have realized that there are a number of athletes that also live on this island. Although I feel wronged by my sport, I have come to grips with it. My attitude has become increasingly independent from USATF and my expectations are based solely on the body of work that I have produced up this point. When I lay my head down at night, I know I am living my dream of competing as a professional Track and Field athlete and that drives me daily. It takes a lot of guts to do what we do. I am disappointed in the lack of support the USATF shows for developing athletes and collegiate champions, and am working to bridge the gap between College – National – International athletic success. I have worked as hard as any other athlete and am very proud of my journey to the 2012 Olympic Trials.
How do you feel about the Hammer being up in Beaverton?
I am excited about the opportunity to compete with the best the U.S. has to offer in a pristine setting and a large number of fans in attendance. The day of the competition should make for a lifelong memory and hopefully an opportunity to make the final and the medal stand. As far as being forced to compete in the Olympic Trials in Beaverton, with a fan base made up primarily of Nike employees that aren’t necessarily Track & Field fans? I’m strongly opposed! … As frustrated as I am about the event, it will most likely be the best event I have competed in.
Aside from your competition, what are you looking forward to most about the Trials this summer?
Being a spectator for nine days of some of the best track and field action in the world. Being a townie has so many advantages this time around, my home is two miles from the Hayward field and I can bike to & from the Trials. I have made so many friends in the sport over the last eight years, and being able to cheer for them means a lot to me. I also plan on hosting one heck of an after party, look for your invitation!
What do you foresee being the biggest hassle/challenge in the experience here in Eugene?
The influx of people creating massive crowds, traffic, long lines & basic chaos. Living in Eugene for two years, one gets used to the pace of the town & for the two weeks of the Trials, that pace will be drastically changed. Athlete seating as a spectator is a topic I hope will not be an issue with the expected sell out crowds in attendance.
Do you have anything/anywhere specific in Eugene that you would recommend other athletes and spectators check out when they visit this summer?
Alton Baker park: walk/jog Pre’s trail. Get to the top of Spencer’s Butte for a great view. Visit Pre’s rock. If the weather permits, rent tubes and life vests from the UO Outdoor program and float the Willamette/McKenzie river on one of the off days. Rent a bike from the Center for Appropriate Transportation (catoregon.org) and see the town without traffic or take a ride along the McKenzie River. Make sure to visit eugenecascadescoast.org for all of the local information, the staff is very helpful and provide insider information as well as local maps and opinions on where, what and when to get the best value for your buck.
Follow Lucais as he prepares and competes this week!
@ Lucfrom209 on Twitter
or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/lucais.mackay.
Extra word from him: Keep your ears to the ground for my website promoting the hammer throw and accompanying non-profit organization in the coming months.