Profession: Former Olympic Hammer thrower
- 4x Olympian
- South American record (73.74 meters)
- South American Championships 3x Gold medallist and 3x Bronze medallist
- 2007 Pan American Games Bronze medallist
- 2003 Pan American Junior Championships Gold medallist (Hammer throw) and bronze medallist (Shot put)
- 2000 South American Youth Championships Gold medallist (Hammer throw) and silver medallist (Discus throw)
Jennifer retired in 2021, after a 23-year career. She is also a published author,in 2016 she published El Martillo Volador (The Flying Hammer).
A 23-year career must have had plenty of special moments. Which one would you say was your most memorable?
Qualifying for the Finals at the 2011 World Championships in Daegu is definitely one of my favorite moments. But if I look at my career as a whole, the moment I most cherish came at the 2018 South American Games (ODESUR) in Cochabamba, Bolivia. 2012 to 2018 were years marred with bad competitions, second guessing and questioning myself constantly and even a handful of injuries. A month before the competition I was having surgery on my meniscus and my participation was in question (as was my season). I gritted it out and went round for round during the entire competition, only to win on my very last throw…and by five centimeters. It was an awesome victory and it was such a great ‘turn the page’ moment, finally getting past some of my doubts from those difficult years.
How were you first introduced to hammer throw?
I threw shot put and discus in high school and one of the teachers took me to our national training center. There I met my first coach and threw the hammer for the first time. It was love at first throw! Also, the group of throwers that I met there were super welcoming, so it felt like home from day one.
Transitioning out of sport can be challenging for athletes, how did you prepare for your transition out of athletics?
I knew I was getting ready to retire years before I was actually close to doing so. I thought a lot about it, but honestly, after 23 years, I was ready to stop being an athlete. I gave it everything I had, and I loved it for so long, so by the time I said goodbye to it, I felt really complete. Now I’m in massage school and Grad School at the University of Houston and I’m taking a painting class once a week just for fun. I still don’t know exactly what this next stage of my life is going to look like, but I’m excited for it. Being an athlete and an Olympian was the coolest and most cherished part of my life, but it was something I did; it doesn’t make or define who I am. And once I realized that, it was a lot easier to transition out of the sport.
Body image and bullying is such a huge issue for so many women, and we love that you speak openly about it – but how tough was it for you to get to this point of peace with your own body?
I would love to say that I’m ‘healed’ from my body image and self esteem issues, but I don’t know that I will ever truly be over my insecurities. I have worked on my relationship with my body, food and fitness a whole lot, but I think it will always be something that I have to be conscientious about. My relationship with myself is the most important relationship I can have, so it makes sense to always work on it and have it be the healthiest possible. Also, being honest in the journey is a big part of what other people connect with.
What advice would you give to young girls who battle with body image and maybe don’t want to do sport for fear of not being feminine?
I think when we are young we spend so much energy worrying about what others think of us. Be brave, do the things you love and don’t worry about what others might or might not think. We decide what kind of people we want to be, we do this through the choices we make. I also believe that every woman has to find her own path and define for herself what being a woman and what our femininity looks like.
What are you looking forward to in ‘normal’ life?
The first thing I did after I retired was to buy a skateboard! I’m looking forward to doing a lot of things that I set aside as an athlete. All the sports, especially snowboarding and skateboarding. I’m also really excited to just be a normal person. Fitness will always be a big part of my life but now if I don’t feel like going to the gym, I don’t. And that’s such a refreshing notion, lol. I’m looking forward to spending more time with my family and friends and boyfriend and dog. Just hanging out or going on adventures.
Which book would you recommend every athlete reads (other than your own of course 😊)?
Andre Agassi ‘Open’ is a really good read especially for those athletes getting close to retiring. ‘Rafa’ (Rafa Nadal) is also an excellent read. A non-sport book that I love is Paulo Coehlo’s ‘The Alchemist’.