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A RETURN TO HER ROOTS

(Patterson) Winger spends quality time with family in FD

Messenger photo by Britt Kudla Olympian Kara (Patterson) Winger enjoys morning coffee with Fort Dodge’s Harvey Hilpipre (left) and Chris Parker on Friday at Ja-Mar Restaurant.

When Kara (Patterson) Winger visits her grandfather, Fort Dodge’s Tom Engler, she loves to listen to his stories and reminisce about old family memories with the 93-year-old World War II Navy veteran.

So what else does a three-time Olympian do while she’s back in town?

Winger gathers with her mother, Rona (Engler) Patterson, her grandfather, and residents at Friendship Haven for a friendly game of Duplicate Bridge.

Winger’s Friday started with breakfast at JaMar Restaurant with her grandfather and a handful of friends for coffee.

Then they gathered at Friendship Haven with her mother Rona — a 1970 Fort Dodge Senior High graduate.

“It was a pastime of my parents (Bruce and Rona Patterson), and my grandfather and grandmother (Jean) also used to play (bridge) until she passed away in 2011,” Winger said. “So it was nice to spend some quality time with him.”

Winger, who attended and starred as an athlete at Purdue University, has competed in the last three Olympic Games. She began her Olympic career in the 2008 Beijing Olympics as an undergrad, specializing in the javelin event.

Then, despite having suffered a torn ACL just ahead of the Games in 2012, Winger still competed in the London Olympics.

In the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio De Janeiro, she finished 13th, one spot away from reaching the 12 person finals. Winger also has her sights set on the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

“Right now I’m in the off season and I’ll start training again in February,” Winger said. “I’ve gotten better every time out with new strategies and I bring my family along the way, which is very motivating.”

Winger, who was a multi-sport standout at Skyview High School in Washington, took part in swimming, basketball, softball, volleyball, soccer, discus, middle distance running and gymnastics.

“I’m a huge multiple-sport advocate,” Winger said. “I credit my health and my career to being a multi-sport athlete.

“I played basketball in the winter, swam in the fall and played softball. In the spring I didn’t know what to do, but my geometry teacher (Mr. Heidenreich) said I should try to throw the javelin. I tried it and had a good throw (107 feet in her first junior varsity meet) and have loved it ever since.”

That first throw eventually led to three state high school championships. Winger eventually became the American record holder and a six-time USATF Outdoor champion. She was the 2012 Olympic Trials runner-up, and the 2013 USA Outdoor bronze medalist.

Since her first Olympics in 2008, she has won four national titles. Winger improved on Kim Kreiner’s American record with her winning toss of 66.67m.218-9.

Winger, who married fellow track and field athlete Russell Winger in 2014, has enjoyed all of the time and travel involved with her sport.

“I feel like a true citizen of the entire United States, rather than just one area of it,” Winger said. “I’m from the Pacific Northwest, but went to school in the midwest and I’m comfortable here after visiting my grandparents (in Fort Dodge) all of my life. Now I’m living in Colorado, and have spent some time in Southern California.

“So my family specifically helped me expand my horizons from an early age, and that’s served me really well in the career of world travels.”

Her trip back to Fort Dodge to visit her grandfather, Tom — who is now married to Gloria (Magnusson) Engler — had a bit of nostalgia with it, as per usual.

“Family is everything to me,” Winger said. “My grandpa is the most structured athlete in the family; I love to hear his basketball stories from the late 1930s to the early 1940s. My grandpa was a World War II Navy veteran and attended Iowa State University. My grandmother was also in the Navy, and I train on Air Force base in Colorado Springs. So it really caries a powerful message to me and inspires me every day.

“I love spending quality time with my family, because they’ve been a big part of my career.”

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