Maybe the biggest difference in determining Jeneva McCall's future was something that did not happen in the competition arena.
The Thornridge High School and Southern Illinois University grad was a 14-time All-America and a three-time NCAA champion in various indoor and outdoor throws events.
She was the 2012 NCAA weight throw champ and runner-up in the shot put indoors. Outdoors, she was the NCAA hammer throw champ and placed third in the shot put and 10th in the discus. She was a 15-time Missouri Valley champion.
“The Thrower's Page” ranks her as the top shot put, discus and hammer thrower in the world. Despite her accomplishments, McCall's biggest challenge is not how far she can throw, but like most amateur athletes, it is having the financial means to continue her training.
McCall was recently named a graduate assistant for strength and conditioning at SIU, thus enabling her to not only continue her graduate work, but receive a stipend and remain in Carbondale.
“That makes a big difference,” McCall said. “For two years, I have a check every month and I can go to school and work here with my coach."
Her throws coach is John Smith, a Portage High School and SIU grad. His wife, Connie Price-Smith is SIU's head track coach and a four-time Olympian. She is also the assistant women's throws coach for the U.S. Olympic team at the London Games.
Smith has said often that McCall was one of those “steals” as nobody recruited her heavily. He said McCall's future is bright because of how far she has come.
"She is the best three-event thrower I have ever coached and the numbers back that up," Smith said. "Two years is good because I think in that time, I can get her to where she can make the (2016) Olympics.”
McCall came up short in her bid to make the U.S. Team in the recently-held U.S. Olympic Trials. She was eighth in the shot put, 10th in the hammer throw and 15th in the discus.
McCall was was one of 10 female finalist for the Bowerman, an award given annually to the top male and female collegiate track and field athletes. While she sees a bigger picture, she knows it is the little things like taking care of business now that will net results.
“I'm not as much worried about 2016 as I am the rest of 2012, 2013 and so on,” McCall said. “I need to get better and by being able to stay down here where I am comfortable, that is a big help.
"I am proud of how far I came because coming out of high school, I really had not done anything."
Smith said help – or the lack of – is what has plagued U.S. throwers. McCall did sign a contract with the New York Athletic Club, but Smith said there is not enough money for an athlete to be self-sufficient and still train.
“We need to subsidize our athletes a little more,” Smith said. “Maybe a solution is for their hometowns to raise some money to help support them.”
McCall, the daughter of former heavyweight boxing champion Oliver McCall, said her dad had talked to her about going into the ring.
"He saw how fast my arms moved when I threw the discus," McCall said. "Maybe one day, but I want to concentrate on my throwing."