By Michael Muldoon
---- — The 262-8 cutoff to advance to the finals was a mark he’s made several times before, including with a career best 271-5 throw in June.
But Methuen native Sean Furey never put it altogether on any of his three throws yesterday in the javelin competition at the Olympic Games in London. Furey’s best was a 238-10.5 throw as he finished 37th out of 44 competitors. The top 12 advanced to Saturday’s finals. Vitezslav Vesely of the Czech Republic had the top throw (289-10).
“It’s just a terrible feeling,” said Furey, a 29-year-old engineer, who now calls San Diego home. “The best feeling in the world is when you hit a big one. This is the worst feeling in the world. It’s like you wimped out. You gave in. That’s what the three throws felt like.
“I’m emotionally zapped. It went by in a blur.”
He said his health was fine (just prior to the Olympic Trials he was slowed by a sore back) but that the enormity of the Olympic Games could have taken its toll.
“I”m sure that had something to do with it,” said Furey, who was seeded 22nd. “Looking back, maybe I’d train differently, turn the intensity down. It’s not really clear in my mind right now. I was competitive. I felt fresh and healthy. I love the atmosphere. It’s just not hitting crisp positions. It could be muscle memory or adrenalin and rushing things. A million reasons.”
The former Foot Locker national champion at Methuen High sensed early he might be in trouble.
“I was fighting it the entire night,” he said. “It’s crappy to have all that energy and have things go way down hill.”
In the past, he’s shown a knack for the big throw under pressure. Like in his final throw in qualifying at the 2009 World Championships. After a rain delay, he nailed it with a season best to advance to the finals.
His first throw yesterday was a foul, then the 238-10.5 then a bit off that for his final effort.
“On the last throw, it just left my hand and (I thought), ‘Oh, my god. I can’t believe I let that one slip away.”
Furey’s coach, Todd Riech, was in the stands. He could relate to the frustration Furey, a first-time Olympian, was feeling.
“My first time (1996 Games in Atlanta), my three throws went by so fast that I can barely remember them,” he said.
What pained Riech is he knows Furey’s dedication to his craft.
“There aren’t too many people who do all the things he does. He does everything physically, mentally and technically to be prepared,” said Riech.
Unfortunately, the technique abandoned him yesterday.
That Furey would take it hard is no surprise. His coach at Dartmouth College, Carl Wallin, said the other day that it was Furey’s extraordinary drive and intensity that made him a champion.
After spending almost every hour in the Olympic Village preparing for the games, Furey was excited to spend some time last night with some of the 15 family members and friends who came to London.
“I saw (wife) Maddie and a group from Dartmouth and my mom (Kathy Stupack) and my brother (Ryan),” he said. “It felt the weight kind of drifted away.”
Furey, who turns 30 on Aug. 31, probably won’t be going away. He’s throwing further and further every year.
“There is so much more that he can do and improve on,” said Riech. “I think he’ll just get better and better. Four years is a long time. The javelin is an older man’s sport. I think this will make him a little more hungry.”
A tough outing couldn’t rob him of his confidence.
“I still believe I have great throws in me,” said Furey, who said he’ll continue to compete until it’s not fun any longer. “I look at guys who throw far and know they aren’t more talented than me.”
Furey earned a place in the area history books. He’s only the fourth area athlete (man or woman) in over a century to make the Olympic track and field team. The others were Lawrence marathoner A. Roy Welton way back in 1908, Salem hammer thrower Fred Tootell in 1924 and Haverhill 4x100 relay sprinter Gerry Ashworth in 1964. Both Tootell and Ashworth won golds while Welton placed fourth.