Name: Rachel Yurkovich
Hometown: Newberg, Oregon
Current Residence: Portland, Oregon
Years competing: Ten years
How did you get started in your sport?
I started competing in the javelin when I was a sophomore at Newberg High School, after deciding to quit the softball team. I went out on the first day of track practice and tried just about every event. I had some friends who threw the javelin, so eventually I wandered over to the runway, chatted with Coach Joe Boutin, picked up a javelin and started throwing. The rest is history.
What are some notable highs from your career?
The first notable high was setting the high school American record in 2005, then the back-to-back NCAA titles in 2008 and 2009. I remember coming from eighth place on my last throw in the 2008 Olympic Trials to finish third.
Making the World Championship final in Berlin, Germany in 2009 and finally throwing 60 meters in Rabat, Morocco in 2010 were both recent highlights. Last year, I got to drive to beautiful Vancouver, B.C. from Portland in order to chase the standard to qualify for the 2011 World Championships at the Harry Jerome Classic. This year, I finally threw the “A” standard at a meet in Guadeloupe.
What is the lowest point you’ve experienced?
The lowest point I experienced in my career would probably have to be at the end of 2010. That year, I trained harder than I ever had before; I put on about ten extra pounds of muscle and had extremely high hopes for what the season would bring. But when competition season finally came around, I struggled to throw far when it mattered. To add to my frustration, I was also going through some person tribulations, so the combination of being unhappy in both my professional and personal lives made me seriously consider retiring.
How did you bounce back?
I made a lot of changes. I moved to Portland and lost that extra ten pounds of muscle. I took a little over four months off from the sport to focus on my life and things that made me happy to gain a little perspective. Ultimately, I changed my attitude and the way I view what I do. I had to remember the times when I had been happy throwing the javelin and find a way get back to that mindset.
What are your goals, both short term and long term?
My short-term goal is to make the 2012 Olympic team and to have an overall consistent season at a high level. I don’t really have long-term goals for throwing the javelin. I like to take things one step or day at a time. I plan to throw as long as I enjoy it and my goal is to enjoy it as long as possible.
What surprises have you experienced in your career?
I was surprised at how much of an emotional roller coaster this sport can be, while at the same time remaining fun and exciting. Also, this sport really makes you grow up and figure out who you really are. It makes you realize the need to find correct balance in your life.
What brought you to Oregon?
I was born and raised here.
What is your favorite thing about Oregon athletically?
My favorite thing is that when people know track and field, they know track and field. There are some mega track fans out there, and I think about 90 percent of them live in Oregon.
When you’re not training or competing, what do you like to do? Hobbies? Favorite restaurant? Favorite hangout?
When I’m not training or competing I love to be home with my fiancé and our dog, Pepper. We love to do things as a trio. We explore new parks and hikes and go flying in our small plane. We also love to ride the motorcycle on nice days and try new restaurants, though Pepper stays home for these activities. I don’t have a favorite restaurant because there are so many amazing places in Portland but Mother’s Bistro is my go-to breakfast spot.