July 14, 2003
Columbus, Ohio – Ohio State throwers Dan Taylor (Jr./ Middlefield, Ohio) and Amarachi Ukabam (Fr./ Creve Couer, Mo.) have earned the right to compete in the 2003 Pan American Games. Taylor, an All-American and Big Ten Champion in 2003, was selected to vie for a title in the men’s shot put at the Senior Pan Am Games set to be held Aug. 1 through Aug. 17 in Santa Domingo, Dominican Republic, with the shot put preliminaries taking place Aug. 5.
Ukabam, who claimed the United States Junior Discus title June 19 in Palo Alto, Calif. with a personal-best effort of 184-5, is considered a favorite in the Junior Pan Am competition held July 18-20 in Bridgetown, Barbados. Ukabam will throw in Friday’s prelims starting at 6:30 p.m.
Ohio State throws coach John Smith expects both of his athletes to turn in stellar performances in the international competitions.
“Amarachi is the first U.S. champion I have coached since 2001,” Smith said. “I like her chances at the Junior Pan Am Games. I have never seen anyone dominate the U.S. Junior Championships like she did. Dan’s competition will be stiff, but I think he has a great chance to win. The Pan Am Games serve as a great starter competition for Dan’s international career.”
The selections to compete in the Pan Am Games follows outstanding 2003 campaigns for both Taylor and Ukabam as each claimed Big Ten titles and conference recognition. Taylor was named 2003 Indoor and Outdoor Male Big Ten Athlete of the Year after scoring conference titles in the indoor and outdoor shot put and the weight throw, while Ukabam, the 2003 NCAA Mideast Regional Champion in the discus, was deemed the 2003 Big Ten Freshman of the Year following her discus title at the conference meet.
Taylor, the youngest among the Pan Am shot put field, sees the Pan Am Games as another challenge in his path toward an opportunity to compete in the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece. “This will be my first competition among professionals,” Taylor, the 2003 Penn Relays champion in both the shot put and hammer throw, said. “It is a different level of competition, which actually takes place during my off season. The professional season runs at different times than the collegiate year, so I have to change my training approach. Either way, it is a great way to top off the 2003 season and also build toward next year.”
Ukabam, who compiled one of the finest freshman seasons in Ohio State history, also looks at her participation in the Pan Am Games as a great ending to her initial collegiate season.
“Competing in this event wraps up the season really well for me,” Ukabam said. “This will be my third international competition and I look to set a personal record like I did at the junior championships. I feel good and I am comfortable being viewed as one of the favorites. I’ll just have to step into the ring and see what happens. It will certainly be a fun challenge.”
Ukabam will depart for Barbados Tuesday, while Taylor will leave for Santa Domingo Aug. 1.