Updated 24 August 2007
Jennifer DAHLGREN, Argentina (Hammer Throw)
Born 21 April 1984 in Buenos Aires, Argentina; 1.81m, 118kg
Lives in Athens, USA
Coach: Donald Babbit
University: University of Georgia
Although Jennifer Dahlgren was born in Argentina, and she feels she is an Argentine girl, she has spent most of her life in the United States. Since she was very young, she has had to move home many times because of her father’s work responsibilities. Nevertheless, she is proud of representing Argentina in international competition and is adamant that her heart belongs to that country. Nowadays, the South American hammer throw record holder is Argentina’s most important athlete.
Dahlgren was born in Buenos Aires and moved to Brazil when she was two years old, together with her family (father Roberto, works in the petrochemical industry; mother, Irene Fitzner; sister, Sabrina, two years older). Three years later, they moved to Texas. By that time, her little brother, Paul, had been born. After four years there, they packed their belongings and settled in Connecticut for a season, before returning to Texas.
When Dahlgren was 13, they returned to Argentina. “I used to say that I was an Argentine citizen, but I really didn’t feel like that,” she recalled. “Back in my country I had many troubles with the language. I used to speak English with my sister and my brother. I remember that it took me some time to adapt myself to high school, but finally I succeeded and now I really love Buenos Aires.”
But the hardest moment for ‘Jenny’ – as her friends call her - was when she had to come back to Texas. “I didn’t want to return at all,” she said. “I cried a lot, I remember it was really difficult for me.”
Although her mother was one of the best Argentine sprinters in the 1970s, and took part in 1972 Munich Olympic Games, it was by chance that Jennifer began to train in athletics in 1998. “I used to practise a lot of sports,” she said. “However, athletics was special to me, but not because of my mother’s experience.” From the beginning, she chose the Shot Put, Discus and Hammer throws because of her build.
In those days, her coach was Andrés Charadía, former South American Hammer record holder (74.66), who still shares some technical advice with her. “He pushed me to focus on Hammer Throw which was also the most fun discipline for me, so I decided to go ahead with it”.
Dahlgren kept on training in the Unites States while she was at high school. Then, in 2003, she moved out for the seventh time in her life so as to start studying English Teaching at the University of Georgia, in Athens, and began to train with her coach, Donald Babbit. As she stood out as an athlete, she received a full scholarship. During that season, she not only managed to break the South American junior Hammer Throw record (61.60) but also won the Pan American Junior Championships, in Bridgetown.
Dahlgren seemed to feel comfortable during her first senior season, achieving podium results at the age of 20. By that time she was fully concentrated on the Hammer and broke the South American record four times, earning her ticket for the Athens Olympic Games of 2004. She could not produce her best there, but that experience would surely help her in the future.
Meanwhile, she was an ordinary student at University: she woke up at 9am every day, attended lessons until noon, had lunch and trained for four hours up to 6pm before returning to her room. “It was a nice and simple life,” she said. “The United States is a great place to live while training. However, I expect to go back to Argentina in the future. People are so different there and I miss my family, my friends, the customs and even the Argentinian food.”
In 2005, Dahlgren established a new South American record, but she gave a bad performance in her first World Championships, in Helsinki. However she then declared that at least she had learnt how to compete in a championship. And she surely had, since, in 2006, she won two NCAA Championships (indoor and outdoor) and the South American Championships. Besides that, she broke her own South American record five times, surpassing the 70m barrier for the first time.
Once again, in 2007, Dahlgren repeated the story: she established another South American record (72.94), won the NCAA Championships outdoor and was bronze medalist in Rio de Janeiro, in the Pan American Games. “Although I didn’t perform too well, I was happy about the podium I got in Brazil,” she said. “Besides, to spend some days with my friends in the Pan American village was amazing.” And she added, smiling: “Whenever I’m among sportsmen I always look for a boyfriend.”
Dahlgren will go to University for the next six months, but her amateur athletics career is over and she will have to become a professional athlete. “Although you can live pretty well as a thrower, you don’t earn as much money as 100m runners do. So I’ll probably have to forget about luxury. Anyway, I know I’ll be a hammer thrower for many years.”
She does not know now where she is going to live in 2008. Her parents have moved to Singapore while the United States is a possibility. “The wind will decide my destiny,” she laughs. Anyway, she expects to continue on improving her marks, while her country dreams of the international podiums that she will step onto during the next decade.
1999 – 46.36; 2000 – 56.68; 2001 – 57.50; 2002 – 59.48; 2003 – 61.60 (AJR); 2004 – 66.12; 2005 – 67.07; 2006 – 72.01; 2007 – 72.94 (AR)
Hammer Throw: 72.94, AR (2007)
Shot Put: 15.03 (2003), 15.54i (2004)
Discus Throw: 44.28 (2003)
2000 1st South American Junior Championships (Sao Leopoldo) 54.95
1st South American Youth Championships (Bogotá) 56.68
2001 4th World Youth Championships (Debrecen) 56.92
1st South American Junior Championships (Santa Fe) 57.50
2nd Pan American Junior Championships (Santa Fe) 57.18
2002 5th World Junior Championships (Kingston) 59.48
1st South American Junior Championships (Belem) 55.73
2003 1st Pan American Junior Championships (Bridgetown) 58.61
2004 3rd NCAA Championships (Austin) 66.12
1st South American U23 Championships (Barquisimeto) 65.17
3rd Ibero-American Championships (Huelva) 63.72
q Olympic Games (Athens) 59.52
2005 2nd NCAA Championships (Sacramento) 66.72
1st South American Championships (Cali) 65.05
q World Championships (Helsinki) NM
2006 1st NCAA Championships (Sacramento) 69.00
1st South American Championships (Tunja) 69.07
1st South American U23 Championship/Odesur Games (Bs.As.) 66.48
2007 1st NCAA Championships (Sacramento) 70.72
3rd Pan American Games (Rio de Janeiro) 68.37
Prepared by Víctor Pochat for the IAAF ‘Focus on Athletes’ project. © IAAF 2007.