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The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

Big, bold & beautiful

City College thrower Ellie Fanaika practices her moves. Photo by || Juan De Anda || [email protected] ||

Perspiration drips from her face and the muscles and veins in her arms and legs twitch with each lift and lurch of a training weight. She isn’t slim and slender like a fashion runway model, but Ellie Fanaika doesn’t care because, for the sport she participates in, she can’t have a slender physique.

Fanaika just laughs, smiles a wide, bright grin and continues to pump more than 200 pounds of iron in preparation for the shot put she is going to thrust through the air.

Fanaika, 19, is a thrower for the women’s track and field team. She specializes in throwing the shot put, hammer and discus. Though the sport demands a muscular build, she is still feminine. Lifting weights doesn’t retract from her femininity—it enhances it.

“Athletes come in a lot of different sizes, and I’m proud to be breaking the stereotype that women athletes are thin and slim because I’m far from that—I’m a bigger, thicker version, yet I’m still an athlete,” says Fanaika, an undecided major. “I don’t feel like a buff man when I throw in the track meets.”

According to her cousin Ignatius Smith, a City College psychology major, Fanaika is an inspiration to all women.

“I see a confident woman in Ellie and she is a reflection that not all women are skinny because she is fit for her body type,” Smith says. “She makes her throwing look elegant in a way like a ballerina does to dancing—graceful, refined and simple. Ellie is in a sport that is thought of as manly, but she is showing these men that she is a woman, she is feminine, beautiful, independent and making the men work harder.”

Fanaika became interested in weightlifting and throwing during her junior year of high school so she could hang out with friends on the team. But when she competed more and more, she enjoyed the thrill she received from throwing the heavy objects great distances.

When she enrolled at to City College in 2008, she decided to pursue the sport seriously. Fanaika credits her family for her decision to pursue throwing at the collegiate level.

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In the shot put competition, the thrower must throw an 8-pound steel ball. In the hammer, another event Fanaika competes in, the same ball is attached to a metal cord. A discus is a little more than 3 pounds that the thrower flings afield after a series of short momentum-building swings.

This season, she has dominated in all categories.

Photo by || Juan De Anda || [email protected] ||

In shot put, Fanaika shot a 11.36 meter (37.3 ft) throw at the Modesto JC Rotational on Feb. 12, earning first place overall in the meet. The next week she was in fifth place at the Chico State Rotational meet Feb. 27 but beat her own record with an 11.81-meter (38.74 ft) throw. In hammer, Fanaika threw 44.52 meters (146 ft.), receiving first place only to get first place again at the Kim Duvst Invitational at CSU Stanislaus March 6 with a 47.74 meter (156.6 feet) throw. In discus, she threw a fifth place overall throw at 33.42 meters (109.6 feet) at the Chico meet and at the Stanislaus meet she received third place with a 39.94 meter (131 feet) throw.

In the weight room or on the field, Fanaika has grown accustomed to men staring, shocked to see her athletic prowess. She squats 385 pounds, her heaviest weight and on the bench press, she pumps weights totaling 175 pounds.

“When I’m lifting weights, a lot of guys are staring and saying, ‘Whoa, what the heck? Did she just lift that?’ I’m not embarrassed that I can lift more than other guys,” Fanaika says. “I’m happy that I can achieve these things, and because I’m a woman many guys think I can’t do that.”

Enimoa Laui, a beginner thrower on the team, says she learns much from Fanaika.

“Ellie strives hard and she is my role model for the ideal thrower,” Laui says. “She is confident and since she is breaking barriers, I want to be a lot like her because she doesn’t lose her femininity and individuality with each pound of muscle she gains or with every ball or disc she throws.”

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