(Photo by Keith Anderson/Kamloops Daily News)
By GREGG DRINNAN
Daily News Sports Editor
It was a day unlike any other in Canadian shot putting history.
Before Dylan Armstrong of Kamloops was done at the Canadian track and field championships at Foothills Athletic Park in Calgary on Saturday, he had (a) broken his Canadian senior record, (b) won the Canadian championship for a sixth time, and (c) uncorked four of the longest throws in the world this season. including the best one.
“It was just one of those things,” Armstrong said Sunday from Edmonton, where he is to compete in the International Classic on Wednesday. “I was just on. My muscles were a little bit sore because I changed my program a couple of days prior to, but I was like, ‘I’m just going to go for it anyway.’ ”
With his sixth and final throw, Armstrong, 30, reached 22.21 metres, a Canadian record and the longest throw in the world this year.
In fact, Armstrong, who went into the weekend ranked No. 3 in the world, also had throws of 21.89, 21.78 and 21.75, meaning he now has five of the 10 best throws of 2011.
All four of those throws were better than Armstrong’s previous Canadian record of 21.72m that was set in San Diego on April 23.
When it was pointed out that each of his four throws broke his Canadian record, Armstrong replied: “That’s right. I know . . . I know. That’s kind of cool.”
Armstrong’s Canadian record now is the 44th-longest throw in the sport’s history, with only 11 of those having occurred since the turn of the century. American Kevin Toth is No. 8 on the all-time list with a throw of 22.67m in Lawrence, Kan., on April 19, 2003, while Christian Cantwell of the U.S. threw 22.54m on June 5, 2004, in Gresham, Ore., and is 14th.
“It was good,” said Armstrong, who had “about 50 messages” on his voicemail when he activated his phone later on Saturday. “It was pretty exciting . . . pretty exciting.”
Still, he admitted, he had no idea what to expect when he began to warm up.
“I had been training pretty hard prior . . . I really hadn’t shut my body down to give it some rest before,” he explained. “It was one of those things where I warmed up, hit the first warmup throw and thought, ‘Wow, I’m feeling pretty good.’
“So I thought, ‘Well, I’ll try to crank it up each throw’ and it turned out pretty well.”
Which is like saying the movie Titanic made a bit of money at the box office.
“The crowd was awesome,” Armstrong said. “It was totally pcaked there. It was pretty nice to see. Overall, there were a lot of good results over the weekend for Canadian track and field.”
Timothy Nedow of Brockville, Ont., finished second to Armstrong, at 18.69m, with Andrew Smith of Carrot River, Sask., third (18.24m).
And what does Armstrong do the morning after the greatest day in Canadian shot putting history? He trained, of course, then he drove to Edmonton, where he has another session scheduled for today “and then a couple of more and then I’ll be hitting that meet on Wednesday . . . then i’m on the plane at 7 o’clock.”
Armstrong also is No. 1 in the Diamond League standings, with its next meet in Lausanne, Switzerland, on Thursday. He will fly into Geneva, drive to Lausanne, compete and then fly to Vancouver for the Harry Jerome meet on Friday.
“I’m just going to go with it. I’m not thinking about it,” he said of the hectic schedule. “There isn’t anything I can do about it . . . I just have to go with it and prepare as well as I can . . . and try to compete to win.”
When the Canadian championships were over, Armstrong and hammer thrower Sultana Frizell, both of whom work with Dr. Anatoliy Bondarchuk out of the National Throws Centre (NTC) in Kamloops, were among the 13 athletes who have qualified for the world championships in Daegu, South Korea, Aug. 27 to Sept. 4. Dr. B, as he is known throughout the world of athletics, was in Calgary.
Frizell, the defending champion, finished second in the women’s hammer throw, her best toss of 70.17m behind only the 70.86m of Heather Steacy of Lethbridge. Frizell is the Canadian record holder, at 72.24m.
Crystal Smith of the NTC was third in Calgary, at 66.65, with Jennifer Joyce fourth (66.34) and Meghan Rodhe fifth (65.29). Joyce trains in Kamloops, while Rodhe is with the NTC.
Also in the men’s shot put, Justin Rodhe of the NTC opened with a throw of 18.69m and then fouled five straight times.
While Dylan Armstrong spent Saturday at the Canadian track and field championships in Calgary, his American rivals were at the U.S. championships in Eugene, Ore.
Armstrong broke his Canadian record four times in winning his sixth national shot put title in Calgary. But, he said, he wasn’t trying to send a message to anyone.
“I’m focusing just on my personal results,” he said. “I wouldn’t say it’s sending a message. I’m trying to break away from everyone. That’s my goal. I’m trying to get to a real high-end level.”
Still, he knew that the likes of Reese Hoffa and Christian Cantwell were in Eugene and that the shot put title would be decided on Sunday.
“I definitely gave them some motivation going into (Sunday), for sure,” Armstrong said.
He then paused and added, with a chuckle: “I’m sure there’ll be some big throws.”
There were, but nothing that could match Armstrong’s 22.21 metres from Saturday.
Adam Nelson, who turns 36 in July, won his fifth U.S. title, and first since 2006, with a throw of 22.09m, the second-best throw in the world this season, behind Armstrong’s gold medal-winning heave of 22.21m on Saturday.
Cantwell, the defending world champion, was second in Eugene, at 21.87, with Hoffa third (21.86).
— GREGG DRINNAN
The top 10 throws by shot putters in 2011 (distances in metres):
22.21 Dylan Armstrong, Canada Calgary June 25
22.09 Adam Nelson, U.S. Eugene, Ore. June 26
21.89 Dylan Armstrong Calgary June 25
21.87 Christian Cantwell Eugene, Ore. June 26
21.87 Reese Hoffa, U.S. Hengelo, Netherlands May 28
21.86 Reese Hoffa Eugene, Ore. June 26
21.78 Dylan Armstrong Calgary June 25
21.77 Christian Cantwell Eugene, Ore. June 26
21.75 Dylan Armstrong Calgary June 25
21.72 Dylan Armstrong San Diego April 23
The top five throws in history (distances in metres):
23.12 Randy Barnes, U.S. Los Angeles May 20, 1990
23.10 Randy Barnes, U.S. San Jose May 26, 1990
23.06 Ulf Timmermann, Germany Chania, Greece May 22, 1988
22.91 Alessandro Andrei, Italy Viareggio Aug. 12. 1987
22.86 Brian Oldfield, U.S. El Paso, Texas May 10, 1975