Blackburn named U.S. Air Force Female Athlete of the Year

March 24, 2017

Paige Blackburn Track and Field

Paige Blackburn

After the best track and field season of her career, Soldotna’s Paige Blackburn earned the right to participate against the country’s best in last year’s Olympic Trials in women’s discus.

And although she didn’t make it to Rio, her efforts were ultimately recognized by the U.S. Air Force when the captain was named its Female Athlete of the Year.

Blackburn, a civil engineer with the 8th Civil Engineer Squadron at Kunsan Air Base, South Korea, was in the Air Force World Class Athlete Program member from March 2015 to August 2016 and is considering a run at the 2020 Games.

Last summer, Blackburn scored her Trials qualifying mark in Los Angeles, California, when she threw the discus 200 feet, 8 inches – or 61.16 meters. The Olympic standard is 61 meters.

At the Trials in Eugene, Oregon, she did not advance to the finals after finishing 11th in her qualifying with a best throw of 172-11.

Blackburn, of Soldotna High fame, is also a standout in the javelin and is considering to apply for WCAP again for a chance to compete in the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

“To become an elite athlete, your mental game will make or break you,” Blackburn told the Air Force website. “Being in control of your mental state no matter what is thrown at you is absolutely crucial. In an individual sport and in an event that takes only a few seconds to execute, the importance of your mental game is even more escalated.

“This mental hardness is a valuable skill not only on the field, but in the boardroom, in front of your Airmen and in life.”

She holds U.S. Air Force Academy records in the weight throw and standing long jump and was commissioned as a second lieutenant after graduating in 2012.

At the Academy, she was a three-time Academic All-American and was the 2012 Mountain West Conference Field Athlete of the Year.

Before joining WCAP, she earned a master’s degree in structural engineering from the University of Florida. She also was a construction manager and engineering flight chief at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Honolulu, Hawaii.