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A Visit with the State's Top High School Discus Thrower

Mark Guffin shares his inspirational story of hard work and perseverance.

LITTLE ROCK, AR- A high school student athlete growing up without a father is now considered one of the top athletes in his sport in the entire country.

Mark Guffin starts with a deep breath. 

Next, a slow twist to the right, like drawing the string on a bow and arrow.

Then, he explodes, spinning and hurling the discus high into the sky and down a grassy field until it comes crashing to the ground.

Every day after school and most weekends you can find the 18-year-old Guffin, a senior at Little Rock Christian, practicing throwing the discus.

On many days, Michael Robinson is watching from not far away.

"There you go," Robinson says as he meticulously dissects Guffin's technique.  "See how that doesn't create an up and down motion."

Robertson is no ordinary coach. 

He was an NCAA National Champion at Stanford University in 2005 and competed in the discus throw for Team USA in the 2008 summer Olympics in Beijing.

Living in Little Rock while attending medical school at UAMS, Robertson stumbled across his pupil by chance.

"[Robertson's] dad was driving by one Saturday and saw me practicing by myself," Guffin explains. 

"We didn't have a coach at school at that point."

That was about a year ago, and Guffin was already considered one of the best discus throwers in the state. 

But he wasn't satisfied.

"My dad died when I was 11 years old of Lou Gehrig's disease," Guffin said. 

"That, more than anything, shaped my life.

I was determined that he was going to look down on me and be proud of his son."

The Olympian took the teenager under his wing. 

The more time they spent together the more Robertson started to see himself in his student.

"I've had the pleasure of working with... some of the most talented athletes in track and field, and he's one of the hardest working," Robertson said of Guffin.

Since the pair began working together, Guffin has improved the distance of his discus throw by 35 feet, earning him the Arkansas state record. 

He's also received a partial athletic scholarship to the University of Alabama.

Guffin is now ranked one of the top high school discus throwers in the country.

After Alabama, he has dreams of following his mentor to Team USA.

But no matter how far the sport takes him, Guffin says it's his father that inspires every big throw.

"I know he's looking down on me from heaven, and he's smiling a big ol' grin," he said.

This week, Mark won first place at the state discus competition in Hot Springs.

Next up is the Meet of Champs, on Saturday.

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