Patterson Can Clinch Olympic Berth — Almost

Kara Patterson’s track and field season begins in earnest Friday at the Drake Relays, and the pertinent number over the next eight weeks or so is 61.

That’s how many meters the Vancouver native must hurl the javelin in order to essentially clinch a spot on the Olympic team. Yes, Patterson still will need to compete at the Olympic Trials in late June in Eugene. But if she can record a mark of 61 meters between now and then, the Trials should be free of drama for her.

Here’s why:

— The “A” standard for Olympic qualifying in women’s javelin is 61 meters. Or, as we say in America, 200 feet, 1 1/2 inches.

— At the 2008 U.S. Trials, there were a handful of events in which fewer than three competitors had reached “A” qualifying standards. In such cases, U.S. officials would place an athlete who previously had reached the “A” standard onto the Olympic team, even if they finished, say, fifth at the Trials.

— Patterson has thrown at least 61 meters at some point in each of the past four years, and no other American woman has done so since 2007.

— Therefore, if Patterson can go into the Trials with the “A” standard under her belt, it’s highly unlikely that three other women also will reach that mark.

We’ll have more about Patterson’s quest for her second Olympic bid in Friday’s paper and will continue to follow her throughout the season.

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