Finishing in 11th place in the men's discus event at the 2016 Olympics did not bother University of Kansas graduate Mason Finley as much as it would have other athletes.
"In 2016, I had no expectations; I was just happy to be there," Finley said at a KU-sponsored media availability earlier this month. "Honestly, I remember going to that '16 Olympics and just seeing all my idols right there I was watching on YouTube just a month before, and I was just totally starstruck."
Now, as Finley travels to Tokyo for his second Olympics this week, these same athletes he used to idolize have become competitors to him.
"I've competed against these guys so many times, they've turned from idols and people I've just seen on TV to like fellow competitors, and there's like a comfortability with that," Finley said. "You're able to relax and just, you know, do your thing."
With that newfound competitive ability, the expectations Finley has for himself are much higher than they were five years ago.
"I expect for myself to get on that podium," he said.
Finley's game plan for this year's Olympics is also something he is confident in.
"The first day, I expect to go just kind of like the last amount of energy as I can to get into the next day, so probably around 64 meters," Finley said. "Then the next day, to just keep calm and do what I know how to do."
Finley thinks that a 66-to-67 meter throw in the final round can take a medal and that a 68-to-69 meter throw can win an event. His personal best is 68.03 meters, and he believes he can get close to, if not, break his record.
"It's totally possible because I've done that in practice," he said. "With the work of my team, I'm just confident that it's gonna happen here."
Graduating from KU in 2014, Finley still holds the school record for the indoor shot put and was a three-time All-American as a Jayhawk. He represented Kansas in the 2014 NCAA Indoor and Outdoor Championships and has thrown professionally since graduating KU.
The Olympic games begin with the Opening Ceremony on Fri., July 23rd.