Mountain View High graduate Sinai Fatafehi seemed destined to be a thrower even before she was born. The senior on the Cal State Fullerton track and field team said her mother Katherine was pregnant with her while throwing for the University of Utah.
“My mom set the bar high at her university and broke the school record (in the hammer),” Fatafehi said, “and then she was invited to the Olympic trials.”
Instead of feeling the pressure to be as good as her mom, she took it as a challenge. Fatafehi said her mindset was, “OK, Mom, game on.”
That didn’t change when Fatafehi said she became pregnant earlier this year. It only inspired her to handle it the way her mom did more than 20 years ago.
“My mom threw with me when she was pregnant – I can go ahead and do it, too,” she said.
Fatafehi’s plan was to compete in Fullerton’s indoor season, held in the winter, and take the spring outdoor season off to prepare for motherhood. However, she suffered a miscarriage.
“Once I thought I was having a miscarriage, I had to go in and go through the process and keep moving, because that meant I was back on for outdoor season,” she said. “So, I was trying my best to play catch-up, which is kind of a hard thing to do when you’re in a sport and you should already be throwing a certain distance.”
Through it all, Fatafehi said she has come out stronger and with her sights set on her senior season. Her goals for next year include breaking the school record for the hammer, reaching regionals and then the national championship meet. Beyond that, she has a similar dream to that of her mother’s – competing in the Olympics.
Teammate and training partner Corey Gilbert doesn’t doubt Fatafehi can reach her goals.
“Sinai seems more motivated than ever for the upcoming year,” he said. “She always seems to have more to give, and I think she’s going to have a great year. I think there’s definitely going to be some new records this upcoming year.”
Fatafehi has already surpassed her mom’s record in the hammer throw; she hurled it a personal-best of 180 feet, 7 inches as a sophomore.
Fatafehi also throws the shot put – her personal-best effort is 41-4.5 – but said the hammer is her favorite event. She was excited to try it in college after competing in only the shot put and discus at Mountain View because there was no hammer throw offered.
“When we had our track meets, I just knew I wanted to throw the hammer because it looked so fun and it became more of a competition,” Fatafehi said.
Always the competitor, Fatafehi noted that one of her favorite moments as a thrower came when she won a bet with her mom.
“I made a bet with my mom and I just said, ‘Mom, if I (set a personal record) right now, then that means I can go ahead and get my tongue pierced,’” Fatafehi recalled. “It was just one of those crazy decisions. And then I recorded a personal record and said, ‘All right, let’s go, Mom.’”
Although she has many accomplishments in throwing, Fatafehi is more than an athlete. Fatafehi said she is excited about her future and has big plans for her life beyond the sport. Pursuing a degree in public health, Fatafehi said she has a passion for helping others.
Gilbert has seen that side of her first-hand.
“Sinai in three words is sympathetic, tenacious and faithful,” he said. “Sinai is special as a teammate because she stays involved, she’s always cheerful and supportive, and her energy always matches the day. Even if she doesn’t like her own performance, she still supports her teammates and cheers.”