The 2012 Summer Olympics next month will take on added intrigue for fans in the Platteville area - for our humble city with a population of just over 11,000 will in a roundabout way be represented in the London games.
Chantae McMillian, the daughter of Peg Jentz — a 1976 graduate of Platteville High School — and granddaughter of Becky and the late Eldon Jentz will be representing the United States and competing in the heptathlon, a seven-event track and field competition at this year’s summer Olympics.
On June 30 at the United States Track and Field Olympic trials in Eugene, Ore., McMillan finished third in the heptathlon with 6,188 points to earn the final spot on the U.S. Olympic team for the event.
Hyleas Fountain won her fifth national title in the heptathlon, finishing with 6,419 points. Sharon Day was second with 6,343 points.
McMillan, 24, was an All-American heptathlete at the University of Nebraska before she began training for the Olympic trials.
What’s even more amazing about McMillan’s Olympic qualification is that she had surgery on her right knee last August and had to learn how to jump off her left knee.
The trials were the first competition where she competed in all seven events.
She won the shot put and javelin events and recorded a pair of personal-best times in the 200-meter dash and 100-meter hurdles.
The heptathlon also includes the long jump, high jump and the 800-meter run.
McMillan grew up in Rolla, Mo., where he parents Peg and Badger McMillan served in the Army at Fort Leonard Wood military base.
She was a high school track star in the long jump, triple jump and sprints before moving on to Nebraska.
Besides her grandmother Becky, Chantae has several aunts, uncles and cousins still living in the Platteville area.
Her uncle and aunt John and Luann (Jentz) Shea, as well as cousins Jill Wiederholt, Mark Shea and Jeff Shea still live in Platteville. Her cousin Steve Shea lives in Dubuque.
Her uncle and aunt Allen and Sue Jentz live in Beaver Dam.
McMillan’s parents Peg and Badger will travel to London for the Olympics and Luann Shea says she hopes to make the trip as well.
“As long as I can afford the airfare, I plan to go,” said Shea. “This could very well be a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
McMillan, who trains in Ohio, visits Platteville usually twice a year, around Christmas and once in the summer —though as Shea joked, “This year’s summer trip to Platteville may be cancelled on account of her other plans.”