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Javelin thrower from rural Nebraska competing in Tokyo Olympics

Published: Jul. 23, 2021 at 10:25 AM CDT
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GENEVA, Neb. (WOWT) - Geneva, Neb., fits the definition of a small town. The population hovers around 2,000.

But it has something most rural communities don’t have: It’s home to an Olympian who is in Japan for the Olympic Games of Tokyo 2020, which began Friday.

“It’s so embarrassing. I mean, not embarrassing. I’m proud of it,” Maggie Malone said. “Every time my siblings drive by it, they take a picture, roll their eyes and say, ‘All right, Maggie.’ Ha!”

Malone is actually a two-time Olympian in the javelin throw. In fact, she is the American record-holder.

“Clearly, I’m uncomfortable with you saying that,” she said. “It’s so strange to view it that way. I still view myself as a nobody. I’m a blip on the radar.”

At the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Malone finished 25th in the javelin competition. But she learned a ton about how to handle the big stage — things she’s hoping to apply in Tokyo, such as getting a routine and not be wide-eyed about seeing all the other Olympians.

“I didn’t really know many people when I made the team in 2016,” she said. “Now, I know a lot of people. I feel the community is much different than what it was in Rio.”

The track-and-field trials in Eugene, Ore., went on during the city’s highest record temperature of 110 degrees.

“I’m used to Nebraska heat, Texas heat, Alabama heat,” Malone said. “This was way different. It felt like, when you walked outside, your skin was burning.”

In college, the 27-year-old ran track at Nebraska before transferring to Texas A&M. She trains in Alabama.

Malone said she believes her work ethic from growing up in rural Nebraska — playing several sports and working in the fields — helped her Olympic rise.

“All of those experiences made me a great athlete,” she said. “Even saying ‘two-time Olympian’ coming out of my mouth is insane. That was never a goal, but everything I’ve done in life has led to this and prepared me for this.”

From Geneva, Neb., to Tokyo, Japan. This two-time Olympian simply wants to live in the moment and enjoy the ride.

“No pressure,” Malone said. “I just know everyone wants me to do the best I can, regardless of whether that is last or first.”

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