August 14, 2016 - by
Knibb Throwing For Gold In Rio

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The first time she walked into Florida State’s Moore Athletics Center, as a freshman in 2012, Kellion Knibb was greeted by an oversized banner celebrating FSU’s 12 participants in the London Olympic Games. Safe to say it made a lasting impression on the young discus thrower. “I was like, ‘I hope I’ll be there in four years … and see my picture on the wall’” Knibb said.

Four years later, Knibb has held up her end of the bargain.

In the midst of a star-studded career in Tallahassee, in which she has earned multiple All-America honors and finished as a national runner-up as a redshirt junior, Knibb set off for Rio de Janeiro, where she’ll throw for her home country of Jamaica in the 2016 Olympic Games.

Knibb is one of a school-record 21 Seminoles to compete in these Olympics, and one of 16 to come from FSU’s track and field program.

She’ll make her Olympics debut on Monday.

“It’s a dream,” Knibb said. “To represent at the Olympic level is definitely something new and something that I’ll treasure for the rest of my life.”

Knibb rode the season of her life into the Olympics, having gone unbeaten against collegiate competition in every meet until the NCAA Championships in June – all after recovering from a wrist surgery that sidelined her for the entire 2015 season.

And, although she finished second at nationals, it’s hard to say Knibb came up short. She threw for a personal-best 61.44 meters, good enough to break all-time records at Florida State, in the ACC and in Jamaica while providing a qualifying mark for the Olympics.

Still, the 1.81 meters between her throw and the national championship (Wisconsin’s Kelsey Card threw 63.52) provided a little extra fuel to Knibb’s fire.

“It was bittersweet,” FSU throws coach Dorian Scott said. “She qualified for the Olympics but we got second at nationals, so it was almost like a caveat to pick us up after getting second. But now that it’s gone, it’s really exciting and I kind of feel like she can do some damage at the Olympics.”

Scott would know a thing or two about it.

A former FSU All-American himself, Scott threw for Jamaica in both the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, in which he became the first Jamaican to reach the Olympic shot put finals.

A few weeks later, Scott returned to his alma mater as an assistant coach. And the very first athlete he signed was a promising, young thrower from his home country.

“She’s my first athlete I ever recruited to Florida State, so I was able to do the whole journey with her,” Scott said. “… I feel like she’s about to be the next superstar thrower out of Jamaica.”

In the weeks between NCAA nationals and her departure for Rio, Knibb opted to train at Florida State, noting that “it may not be Jamaica home, but it’s track home.”

Unsurprisingly, she didn’t change much from the routine that served her so well over the past season at FSU. Scott believes that a personal-best throw could be enough to clinch a spot for Knibb in the finals.

First, though, Knibb said she’s focused on advancing through each stage – first to the semifinal and then, hopefully, beyond.

Knibb credits both Scott and her experience at Florida State with equipping her to make a run to Rio.

“It’s where I’ve learned all that I needed to learn,” she said, “and grow as I needed to grow.”

And when she comes back this fall, it’s where she’ll see her picture on that wall.

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