EUGENE, Ore. – A soaked but smiling Jorinde van Klinken walked out of the discus cage at Hayward Field for the final time with a pitchfork emblazoned across her chest.
Over the course of her ensuing professional career, Van Klinken will make many more appearances at the cathedral-like coliseum located in the track and field capital of the world, but Saturday, the Dutch-native’s collegiate outdoor track and field career came to a close at the NCAA championships.
Van Klinken’s longest heave of the day measured 62.16 meters ( 203′ 11″) and the story ended the same way it began and the same way it’s always gone – with van Klinken walking away the winner.
Try 14 for 14.
But perfection doesn’t only describe the Arizona State graduate student’s collegiate track record in the discus, it also describes what she’s chasing.
In May, Van Klinken left Hayward unsatisfied despite winning titles in both the discus and shot put at the Pac-12 Championships.
“Actually I was hoping for a lot more,” she said after she captured the shot put title at the conference championships. “I didn’t feel like I got any good throws in so that was kind of disappointing, but obviously I’m very happy I could bring some points to our (women’s) team.”
That sentiment only continued the next day after the discus final.
“Well even worse than (Saturday), so worst meet of the season,” van Klinken said after winning the discus title at the Pac-12 championships. “I’m very disappointed.”
Van Klinken completed her undergraduate degree from Utrecht University in the Netherlands in 2020, where she obtained a bachelors in liberal arts & sciences, but she wanted to pursue a master’s degree and continue throwing.
Van Klinken started searching for a new coach as well as a place to continue her education. She began her quest by scouring Scandinavia and Germany before electing to come to the United States.
After visiting both ASU and the University of Georgia, van Klinken decided on the Devils.
“Definitely a combination of both the degree and the coach,” van Klinken said on why she selected ASU. “Coach (Brian Bluetrich) and I match on a couple levels really good. He’s very direct with me and tells me what I do wrong instead of ‘Oh, good throw,’ because I already feel I do so many things wrong. I prefer someone to be a bit more direct.”
Blutreich, a former 1992 Olympian in the discus, joined ASU as the throws coach in 2016 and has coached athletes to 26 national championships over the course of his career, which also includes stops at Oklahoma, North Carolina and UC Santa Barbara.
“I definitely want to pursue his technical model for sure,” van Klinken said. “I think that it’s his main strength as a coach, that he’s so good technically and I have never executed even near where he wants me to do it. I think in the future I’m just gonna build more towards that perfection that we’re both looking for.”
But it’s not just perfection in competition that van Klinken seeks, she also seeked perfection in the classroom.
The Netherlands-native was honored with ASU’s Heather Farr Student-Athlete of the Year in March.
“I think anyone who’s ever done that knows it’s incredibly hard,” van Klinken said on how she excels in both her throwing and in the classroom. “But I also know that I can’t be an athlete forever so I really like to challenge my brain as well as my body.”
In May, van Klinken graduated with a master’s degree in Global Management of Development and Innovation after attending the Thunderbird School at ASU.
“They didn’t really have anything at Georgia that I want to do so that would already make it really hard,” Van Klinken said.
Arizona State, nicknamed “Throws U,” has been a perennial powerhouse for decades. However, van Klinken stands as the most-accomplished discus thrower to come out of ASU.
Van Klinken’s 70.22-meter throw, which she achieved at the 2021 USATF Throws Festival in Tucson, is a school record for both the women and the men.
“It was a short career, but it was a fabulous career,” Bluetrich said on van Klinken’s two-year stint with the Sun Devils.
During van Klinken’s time at Arizona State, she became a three-time NCAA Champion, winning two outdoor discus championships and one indoor shot put championship.
“You really can’t ask for any more than that,” Bluetrich said. “We always talk about maximizing your potential while you’re here at Arizona State and she’s definitely one who has maximized her potential for sure.”
For van Klinken, the choice to come to ASU was the right one.
“I don’t think I could have made a better decision in my life than to come here,” she said. “I think everyone has seen how much I’ve progressed as an athlete. Definitely technically under coach (Bluetrich) so I couldn’t be more grateful to come to ASU and make that much progression and be the thrower than I am at this age. It’s just unbelievable to me.”
Van Klinken further cemented her legacy with Saturday’s discus title, and while she makes winning look easy, the rainy conditions made things anything but straightforward.
“I think it was really tough for everyone to just not slip in the ring and not let the disc slip out, so it was definitely super hard,” van Klinken said.
Bluetrich said at practice they’ll sometimes put water in the ring to prepare for wet conditions, but since they don’t normally have rain in Arizona or train in the rain, the conditions aren’t something that can be replicated.
“It was coming down which is the problem,” Bluetrich said. “It gets your hand wet, it gets the discus wet and it’s just something you really can’t train for unless you live in a climate where you can do that all the time.”
“It’s more her fortitude and her ability to compete,” Bluetrich continued. “This was by far her toughest conditions of the year so I’m extremely proud of her and we’ll take a W anytime we can get it.”
Van Klinken’s opening throw measured 57.59meters (188′ 11″), before she fouled her second throw. Her third attempt reached 58.06 meters ( 190′ 6″), before she produced another foul throw on her fourth attempt.
In the fifth round, van Klinken was passed for the first time after Kansas senior Alexandra Emilianov took the lead with her 58.44-meter heave (191′ 8″).
“I knew if I didn’t throw over 60 (meters) she would win,” van Klinken said. “Basically every throw I was expecting her to throw over me so I wasn’t really surprised. But my technique was horrible, so luckily that fifth throw my coach gave me a clue that worked so I pulled it off.”
Van Klinken used that clue to retake the lead and her best throw of the day came on her fifth attempt that measured 62.16 meters (203′ 11″).
“Before that fifth throw I was pulling my left arm in and down and that kinda made me throw up,” van Klinken said. “So he told me to hold (my left arm) high.”
That throw, Bluetrich said, “pretty much put it out of reach.”
Last year in the discus finals at the NCAA outdoor championships, van Klinken also had to come from behind. She trailed Iowa senior Laulauga Tausaga until the final round where van Klinken then set the NCAA championship record by throwing 65.01 meters (213′ 3″) to take the title.
“She always overcomes hurdles so it’s just more testament to her,” Bluetrich said.
ASU coach Dion Miller agreed and said van Klinken is “a special person and special people do special things.”
On Saturday, Emilanov fouled her final attempt which clinched van Klinken’s victory.
“Honestly the only thing that really mattered today is obviously the win,” van Klinken said. “For everyone it was super tough today because the rain was bad and the discs were wet. No one was really feeling good because of the rain. I’m proud I pulled it off even with these circumstances. I’m proud of everyone who competed well in the rain.”
Van Klinken admitted she felt relief because “under these conditions very weird things can happen. I’ve seen it before. A lot of the best in the world foul out all three so definitely today I was relieved.”
Van Klinken still has indoor eligibility remaining and plans on coming back to the Sun Devils for next year’s indoor season, but after her collegiate outdoor career concluded, she’s looking ahead to this summer’s World Championships and European Championships.
“It’s gonna help me for the other two championships so much that I already experienced the qualifying rounds a little bit and just throwing against really good people and just the same type of meet.”
On July 18, van Klinken will walk back into the discus cage at Hayward field donning her nation’s colors this time at the World Championships, and now she’s less focused on perfection.
“I hope to win one medal at each (the European and World Championships),” van Klinken said. “I just think preparation wise the hardest thing is that I physically need to be good at all three moments (the NCAA Championships, European Championships and World Championships).
“We’re gonna see if that’s gonna work out, but we’re trying out best.”
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