Purdue alumna, athlete makes U.S. history at World Athletics Championships

Worlds Athletics
Posted at 2:53 PM, Jul 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-24 14:53:13-04

EUGENE, Ore. — A Purdue alumna and four time Olympian has now made her place in the American record books.

On Friday, Kara (Patterson) Winger became the first American woman to win a world championship medal in the javelin at the World Athletics Championships. She placed in second and won the silver medal.

"I [got to do] what I knew I could do all along ... literally nothing to lose on my last throw and magic happened," Winger told WRTV.

Worlds Athletics
Silver medalist Kara Winger, of the United States, poses during a medal ceremony for the women's javelin throw at the World Athletics Championships on Friday, July 22, 2022, in Eugene, Ore.

At the competition, she was surrounded by her husband, who is also her coach, her longtime strength coach and friends.

"That was all exactly the right recipe for success — just to laugh, to be relaxed, to be normal with them and my closest friends on the team," Winger said.

Winger says a lot of people have said it's fitting that she was the athlete who got her place in history on the global stage.

"I really appreciate that sentiment. I'd rather someone had blazed this trail before me and I could just build on that success, but if somebody has to do it, I'm happy for it to be me. I've taken the longest, hardest road it feels like to finally get there," Winger said.

APTOPIX Worlds Athletics
Silver medalist Kara Winger, of the United States, celebrates after the women's javelin throw at the World Athletics Championships on Friday, July 22, 2022, in Eugene, Ore.

Winger is a 2009 Purdue Alumna. After her historic placing, she says she heard from several former Purdue Track & Field teammates, who also congratulated her on Twitter.

Winger also spoke to her former coach, Rodney Zuderwyk. He is now an assistant coach at Notre Dame.

"[He] was a huge part of laying the foundation for what has become this incredibly long career. It's always so fun to hear from him when big moments happen and be reminded of my time in Indiana," Winger said.

Winger competed in the Olympics in 2008, 2012, 2016 and 2020. Winger is the first female athlete in Purdue history and second overall to participate in four Olympic Games. She owns the Purdue record (61.56m in 2008) in the javelin and previously held the American record in the sport.

Tokyo Olympics Athletics
Kara Winger, of United States, competes in qualifications for the women's javelin throw at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2021, in Tokyo.

After two ACL tears throughout her career, Winger says what kept her coming back was the love of the sport, her teammates and competitors from around the world.

"I wouldn't have chosen this long to win a global medal, but if that helps people understand that there's more to it than medals, I'm all about that message too," she said. "[This] is really really a dream."

Winger is retiring after this season. She shared the following message for Hoosiers:

"There are a lot of ways to get where you want to go ... the way that I succeed is the way that everyone is going to do something to their ultimate potential," she said. "I've just really tried to learn from every difficult experience I've gone through and rely on the people closest to me to be able to do that ... Just start wherever you are and keep moving forward, however it works for you to do so while treating people around you how you want to be treated."

You can watch WRTV's Nikki DeMentri's full interview with Winger below.

A conversation with Kara Winger