Everyone loves a love story. Have you heard the one about the pretty, lipstick-wearing shot-put champion?
Jill Camarena-Williams threw the shot 19.76 meters last weekend at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Ore. That’s 64 feet, 10 inches. That was the best American throw in 23 years — since Ramona Pagel threw 20.18, or 66-2 1/2, at a meet in San Diego in June 1988.
Jill didn’t win the shot at the Pre. Nadezhda Ostapchuk of Belarus did, with a throw of 20.59, or 67-6 3/4, best in the world this year and one of the top-50 throws of all time.
Jill was hardly down about it. Just the opposite. She was beaming. And why not?
The Olympics are only a year away and she is a legitimate medal contender — with another chance to prove it Thursday, at the Bislett Games in Oslo, another world-class meet.
She has her health. Her back is pain-free, after a bummer of 2009, and anyone who has had lower-back pain knows what that can be like.
That day in Eugene, she had her family in the stands — her mom, Marilyn, and her dad, Marvin. Her coach was there, too — Craig Carter.
Mostly, though, she has her man — her husband, Dustin.
And to think that Eugene, and Hayward Field, is kind of where it all started — at the 2008 Olympic Trials.
Dustin said, “If you had asked me at the Trials,” where he was working as an athletic trainer and she had just qualified for the U.S. Team, “if I was going to marry her — I’d say you were crazy.
“But everything has a plan.”
To make a long story short, she — the athlete — and he — the trainer — live in the same world. They talk the same language. At the Trials, he worked on a knee that was giving her some trouble.
After she made the team, they went out to celebrate — with her parents, he being such a gentlemen and all — at the Roadhouse Grill in Springfield, Ore., the town right next to Eugene, for a nice casual dinner.
After that, she went to the Olympics, making the finals, finishing twelfth. He went to the Paralympics with the U.S. staff.
During that time, though, they kept chatting online. She told him, when I get back from China, I think I’m going to move up to Provo, Utah, where he was based, to finish a master’s degree — in exercise science — at BYU. He helped her find an apartment.
They hung out together as friends. After about a month, though, each of them thought, hmm, maybe this is more than friends.
They were married Sept. 5, 2009.
She’s now 29. He’s 32. She throws the shot. He runs Ironman-style competitions. They hold hands. They laugh at each other’s jokes.
She said, “He’s such a good person, so good-hearted. He wants everyone to do well. It made me fall in love with him.
“If I stopped throwing the shot, he’d be okay with that. I joke, oh, I weigh so much more. He’s like — you’ll throw the shot that much more!”
Dustin laughed. “What she has found,” he said, “is that balance.”
She nodded. “I get in the ring. I know what to do. I’m relaxed, way more than I used to be. I know everything is going to come together at a meet.”
Isn’t true love great?