Guerra hopes to make second trip to Olympics

Ignacio Guerra prepares to throw a javelin at practice on Wednesday, April 13, 2011. Guerra competed for Chile in the 2008 Beijing Olympics and is hoping to compete for Chile again this summer in the London Olympics.

Lucas Aulbach

An Olympic hopeful will take the field with his WKU teammates next weekend at the Sun Belt Conference track and field championships.

He’ll throw the javelin for the red towel of WKU in May, but if senior Ignacio Guerra qualifies for the 2012 London Olympics, he’ll throw in August for his home country of Chile.

Guerra has competed all over the world in his time as a javelin thrower. The native Chilean came to WKU last year after competing for his home country in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Guerra said the Olympic experience was “amazing” the first time around.

“It was an experience you never forget,” he said. “You’re with the best athletes in your country, and it’s like a big party. I really want to go back and repeat that.”

WKU assistant coach Jarrett Murphy thinks Guerra has what it takes to repeat. Murphy has worked one-on-one with Guerra for the past two years and said he’s seen a lot of improvement in his time at WKU.

“He set a PR (personal record) almost as soon as he got here, and that was after having competed in the Olympics,” Murphy said. “Since then, he’s gotten a lot better in the weight room, and he’s a lot more technically sound.”

In order to qualify for the Olympics, Guerra will have to throw the javelin at least 79.5 meters, the Olympic B-standard, in an official meet in the next two months.

He has competed in just one meet this season but will have many more opportunities as the track and field postseason approaches.

On top of his Olympic experience, Guerra has the benefit of holding the javelin distance record in Chile, Murphy said.

“He’s his nation’s record-holder in the javelin, so if he throws 79.5 meters by the end of June, he’s a virtual lock to be in,” he said. “He’s got the potential to throw over 80 meters — it’s just a matter of putting it all together on the same day.”

Head Coach Erik Jenkins said he thinks Guerra has the potential to be an NCAA champion in the event this season, but that’s not all he brings to the table for the Toppers.

Guerra backs up his skills with the javelin by being an outstanding teammate, Jenkins said.

“I knew we had a good guy when we were at his first meet here in the U.S.,” Jenkins said. “He wins the Florida Relays, throws his PR, and the next day he’s out running around in the infield cheering on the guys that were running the relay.

“We actually had to tell him to get out of the infield because nobody’s supposed to be there, but that just shows how strongly he feels about this team and his teammates.”

The strengths he brings to the team on and off the field could be important for the team coming up. The Sun Belt Championships begin next weekend in Lafayette, La., and Jenkins said Guerra can help WKU bring home another trophy.

“He’s got what it takes to make the Olympics, just like he did a few years ago,” Jenkins said. “We want him to help us get through the conference, regionals and nationals here in the next few weeks first.”

Guerra said last time he was at the Olympics, he was more in awe and just happy to be there.

This time, he said, he’s set his sights on something more.

“When I threw last time I didn’t make the finals, so that’s something I really want to do this time,” he said. “It would be a dream come true.”