Brittany Borman wanted to be a heptathlete. Tia Brooks wanted to be a sprinter. As it turns out, they are neither. Also, they’re in London, waiting for their turn on the Olympic stage.
Borman just finished her collegiate career at Oklahoma. Brooks still has two more years in crimson and cream.
Now, they’re red, white and blue.
At the NCAA national meet in June, each secured a national title, Borman in the discus and Brooks in the shot put.
At the Olympic Trials, each punched their London ticket on the same day, Brooks with a third-place finish and Borman with the longest throw of her life on her last throw of the Trials, winning the event and surpassing the Olympic ‘A’ standard all at the same time and all on her birthday.
At some level, Borman has Brooks to thank.
“Tia threw before I did, so after I saw that she had made it, I was emotionally drained,” Borman said. “I was so happy for her. We were hugging and crying. It was just unbelievable.”
If it was draining, it was also liberating.
“I just told her, once I made it,” Brooks said, “’Now, it’s your turn.’”
Borman threw 201-feet, 9-inches, beating her previous best throw at the Trials by about 13 feet. Brooks didn’t have to sweat her entry, earning it when her second heave traveled 60-2.
Though not exactly favorites in London, the Games have a history of bringing the most out of their competitors. Brooks, at least, knows she can throw farther, her personal best coming during the 2012 indoor season, when she reached 62-4.
“Tia’s never been outside the country and this is Brittany’s first real international meet,” said OU assistant track coach Brian Blutreich, who is accompanying both to London as their personal coach. “I think our goal is to try to make the finals and then go from there.”
Very good friends — Brooks will be a part of Borman’s wedding, which is upcoming — before traveling a long way to London, both came a long way to be Sooners.
Brooks is from Grand Rapids, Mich. At East Kentwood High School, she had misgivings about the shot put.
“I didn’t want to be the stereotypical thrower,” she said. “You know, a big girl who can’t run and who isn’t athletic … One of my coaches sat down with my parents and said, ‘Look, she could be really good at this. She has natural talent, and can you just make her try it. This could be her way into college.’”
A compromise was reached. Brooks would be allowed to sprint, but she would also throw.
Borman, from Festus, Mo., began her collegiate career at UCLA, along the way turning down the recruiting efforts of Blutreich.
“Coach Blu recruited me out of high school and I was like, ‘No way, I’m not going to just throw, I’m going to do heptathlon. And he’s like, ‘I’m telling you, you’re just going to be a thrower.’”
By the time she’d finished her freshman year with the Bruins, she was already focusing on the throws, reaching NCAA regional competition in the shot put, discus and javelin.
By 2010, she was throwing for Blutreich at OU, where twice she became Big 12 discus champion in 2010 and 2011, and Big 12 javelin champion in 2011 and 2012.
It’s all worked out.
“To have one of your best friends going,” Brooks said, “is really cool.”