Haley Showalter's first taste of International competition was bitter.
She hopes for a sweeter taste when she competes as a member of the USA Track and Field Youth Olympic team in the discus at the Youth Olympic Games for 16- and 17-year old athletes Aug. 16-28 in Nanjing, China.
Showalter, a senior-to-be at Valor Christian who won the Class 4A State discus championship in May, was among the participants at the Junior World Championships, held July 22-27 in Eugene, Ore.
She enjoyed herself despite not faring well in the hammer throw, which ironically is her favorite event.
“I didn't do very well,” said Showalter. “I scratched on all my throws in the qualifiers. That was a little disappointing but despite that I probably had the best time of my life out there with my teammates and watching everybody else compete.
“I had never competed internationally. It was a little intimidating so it's good to have the experience. There was tons of good competition. There were a lot of European girls there and they have been throwing the hammer a lot longer than I have. They have a whole lot more experience. I've just got to practice more and get a few more years of experience under my belt.”
Rhode Island is the only state that sanctions the hammer throw for high school athletes but Showalter's heave of 193 feet, 4 inches is the country's best prep throw this year.
Showalter qualified for the Youth Olympics with a personal best discus throw of 153.5 feet at the American Youth Olympic Trials earlier this summer in Miramar, Fla.
“I'm excited that I earned another chance to get another international competition experience,” said Showalter. “I've got to train with the discus now and get ready.
“Hammer is my favorite event. Mostly my focus goes on the discus right now and we'll probably start throwing the shot during the indoor season. I'm working on everything in my form. I have a lot to iron out. If I fix my form I could throw 20 feet further. I have a lot to straighten out in my form.”
Tom Menting is Showalter's Dad and coach.
“I've been coaching her since she was 11-years-old,” said Menting. “My certification is in sports performance training. I started training her after school just to get her acclimated to movement. She responded very well.
“She leaves for China Aug. 13. Every week we've been doing conference calls. They are telling the kids as much as it is for the competition and Olympic Games for kids under 18-years-old, they are trying to make it very cultural so they get to see some of China and meet people from other countries.''
Showalter, who has also trained for seven years as a classical pianist, can't wait.
“I've never been out of the country so it will be interesting to see the different culture in a different part of the world,” she said.
“I took piano lessons a few years back and I still play but I don't do it as often. Classical is mostly what I practiced and played. It didn't fit into my schedule with track and basketball though.”
Showalter abandoned basketball two years ago and now the world anticipates her gifts as a track and field competitor.