Mason Finley, 25, will be competing in the 2016 Summer Olympics after qualifying for the games on July 8.
Finley lives in Lawrence and was an eight-time All-American as a student-athlete at the University of Kansas. He started throwing discus in sixth grade, and he often spent time playing the sport with his father.
"I guess that was just kind of my dad's and my version of going out fishing or our father-son activity," Finley explained.
Finley joins Team USA in the discus competition after one of his all-time best performances during the Olympic Team Trials last week in Oregon.
"I pretty much just went out there, did the technique that coach and I have been working on and dominated," he said.
The qualification came after years of hard work and training. Finley fell short of Olympic qualification in 2012, and since then, he has trained up to four hours a day, five times a week. Aside from winning a gold medal in Rio de Janeiro, Finley hopes to bring more attention to discus.
"[Discus] is more of a dance than anything," said Finley, who worked out at Rock Chalk Park on Tuesday morning. "It's more of a technique."
— Tom Dempsey (@KCTomDempsey) July 12, 2016
Finley is being trained by Andy Kokhanovsky, who competed for Ukraine in 1996 at the Summer Olympics in Atlanta.
"It's a great experience," said Kokhanovsky, who has coached Finley for the last six years. "If you can come out from there right and get a top three finish, it's unbelievable. It sticks with you for the rest of your life."
Kokhanovsky said during the discus competition, Finley will need to be near perfect in order to win a medal at the games.
"You have no room for mistakes," he said. "There are guys who throw real far. Perfection basically needs to be on the technique part."
Plenty of family and friends will be cheering Finley on as he competes in Brazil, especially Kokhanovsky.
"He's matured a lot," said Kokhanovsky. "He's worked very hard at it. He earned every bit of it."
While Finley is in Rio de Janeiro, he will take a break from his part-time job at GNC. He leaves to compete in the Summer Olympics on Aug. 2. In the meantime, Finley is trying to raise money for his mother to attend the games.
If you would like to donate, visit Finley's GoFundMe page.
Tom Dempsey can be reached at Tom.Dempsey@KSHB.com.