Shoulder stiffness is all that Marie-Therese Obst continues to notice, and it isn’t enough to keep her from projecting the best season of her collegiate career.
After a seven-year recovery from a torn labrum in 2014, Obst has been eager to showcase her full potential as a javelin thrower for Georgia track and field. Obst’s collegiate career has been a constant battle of recovery and frustration since arriving in Athens in fall 2017.
Now, in Obst’s final season as a Bulldog, she is proving her ability on the field.
“I knew she had this level in her,” said Don Babbitt, Georgia’s associate head coach and throws coach. “The question was whether we were going to get injury-free and make it out of COVID-19.”
Obst, a native of Oslo, Norway, has won four straight meets this season and has her eyes on the SECs, NCAAs and a chance to make the Norwegian Olympic team.
Obst currently holds the national lead in the javelin event at 201 feet, four inches, and is 39th in the world rankings. This mark has Obst seated fourth on the all-time list of female javelin throwers in the NCAA.
As the only female javelin thrower for the Bulldogs, Obst is forced to spend plenty of quality time training with Georgia’s male throwers.
“It’s strengthened me mentally,” Obst said. “I like training and working out with guys, and I've done that basically my whole life anyway.”
Obst began the sport against boys when she picked up her first javelin in Oslo at 11 years old. She was practicing handball when she spotted the track and field facility next door.
“There were some older guys throwing javelin there,” Obst said. “I just walked over and asked the coach if I could try it.”
From there, Obst began to build her name in Scandinavia. She won the javelin event at the 2015 Nordic Championships and took fifth at the European Junior Championships. Obst also set the Norwegian junior record and the Norwegian under-23 record.
Despite the building pressure of her continued success this season, Obst has learned to stay composed.
“I actually think I’m handling it pretty well because I am more thinking of my own goals,” Obst said.
Obst has two goals on her 2021 agenda: break the women’s collegiate record of 204 feet and make the Norwegian Olympic team.
To make the Olympic team, Obst must throw the qualifying mark of 64 meters (209 feet, nine inches) or collect enough points to finish inside the top 32 in the women’s world rankings.
With plenty of opportunities remaining this season, Babbitt believes Obst has a promising shot. Regardless, he is adamant about treating the Olympics like any other meet.
“We don’t really talk about the Olympics by name,” Babbitt said. “It just happens to be a meet with some good competition in August.”
At the college level, during her first season in spring 2018, Obst made her first nationals appearance and finished 15th. In spring 2019, she finished third at the SEC championships but missed the cut to advance to nationals. After a missed 2020 season due to COVID-19, Obst has one final 2021 season to make her mark.
Obst, along with the rest of the Georgia track and field team, will continue the season from April 30 through May 1 in Athens, Georgia, at the Torrin Lawrence Memorial.
“I’m so happy and grateful that finally now, in 2021, the work that I have put in the past six, seven years is finally paying off,” Obst said.