While the road to Rio may have ended in disappointment for Penn athletes last summer, at least one is hoping to find redemption and secure a ticket to Tokyo for the 2020 Olympics.
For 2016 Wharton graduate Sam Mattis, the decision to continue his discus training after college wasn’t a hard one. Mattis came up just short of his ultimate goal at the 2016 Olympic Trials, but he knew all along that he wasn’t done with discus.
Despite fielding an impressive job offer from JP Morgan, Mattis decided to spurn Wall Street and invest in himself instead. Now training at his coach’s farm just outside of Reading, Pennsylvania, Mattis is doing everything he can to make it to Tokyo.
For Mattis, a typical day involves waking up before 8 AM and not getting back home until after 8 in the evening. In between, Mattis will usually have two stretching sessions, two throwing sessions, and a lifting session out of his coach’s barn that was converted into a weight room. On “off days,” Mattis only does one of each session and works on his mobility with a trainer.
And if all that isn’t enough, Mattis also holds down a part time marketing job at a local pharmacy.
“It’s still somewhat of a mental grind, but it’s more physical. It would’ve been a grind mentally to hold down a job that I was looking at JP Morgan, that probably would have been like 15 hours a day or so — yeah investment banking, real fun stuff,” Mattis joked.
While Mattis has enjoyed being able to focus more on his training, he still does his best to keep in touch with all of his friends and teammates from Penn. Just two weeks ago, Mattis came back to compete in the Penn Challenge as an unattached competitor, and he hosted Penn senior thrower Noah Kennedy-White for training over spring break.
“You’re never going to replace someone at that competitive level,” Penn track and field coach Steve Dolan said. “You know obviously, he’s the best in school history, so there is certainly a void with that level of competition. But I’m proud of the group, I think they’ve rallied.”
And while Mattis’ final goal remains the same, he has plenty more to rally for over the course of the next three and a half years. In addition to smaller meets like the Penn Challenge, Mattis is also hoping to make the cut for the World Championships in 2017 and 2019.
As the record-holder for the longest throw in American collegiate history and the 2015 NCAA national champion, Mattis’ goals are certainly not long shots. But still, only three competitors can make the US Olympic team in each event, so Mattis has his work cut out for him over the next several years.
And as bold as Mattis’ decision to continue his training was, he has no regrets.
“I was definitely going to continue training no matter what — this is something that I love to do,” Mattis said.
How far Mattis can go with his discus throwing remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure: Sam Mattis is throwing caution to the wind and going all in.