Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Travel may be Armstrong's biggest challenge

By GREGG DRINNAN
Daily News Sports Editor
Pretend for a moment that you’re on a business trip.
It starts in Edmonton with an afternoon meeting. The next day you’re in Lausanne — yes, that’s in Switzerland — for another meeting. And the day after that there’s another meeting, this one in Vancouver.
Too much to imagine?
Welcome to the world of Dylan Armstrong, the Kamloops shot putter who is having the best season of his career.
And, yes, that’s what his schedule will be like as June morphs into July.
Armstrong, 30, is scheduled to compete at the Canadian championships in Calgary on June 25.
And then the fun starts . . .
He’ll throw at the Edmonton International Classic on June 29, Athletissima in Lausanne on June 30 and the Harry Jerome Track Classic in Vancouver on July 1.
Three competitions . . . two continents . . . 48 hours . . . good luck!
“I tried to make it work,” he says. “I got lucky and got a night flight out of Edmonton.”
That night flight will take him to London, where he’ll catch a plane to Geneva from where he’ll drive to Lausanne.
He is No. 1 in the Diamond League shot put standings and Athletissima is the next stop on the tour, so he can’t afford to miss it.
“I’ll get there two hours before I compete,” he says with a rueful chuckle.
He doesn’t expect it to be easy but knows that’s the price he has to pay in order to do what he does.
“It’s extremely tough,” the 6-foot-4, 310-pound Armstrong says of the fast-approaching travel schedule. “Everybody always asks, ‘How do you compete and travel so much?’
“At the end of the day you have to be in really good shape to do that.”
You’re not kidding, because after throwing in Lausanne, he’ll hop on another night flight.
“The next morning I’m getting off a plane in Vancouver and throwing that afternoon,” he says.
There won’t be time to adjust to time changes or differences in climate or humidity or anything.
“No,” he says. “You’re just going.”
“It basically comes down to how fit you are,” he adds. “Just being on the road . . . it’s already hard enough . . .”
And two days after the Harry Jerome, he’ll be in Victoria for that city’s International Classic.
It is extremely important to him that he compete in Canada when given the opportunity.
“I like to promote the sport because I feel that’s important and it gets young kids involved,” he says. “I’ve got a lot of young kids who look up to me and it gives them a chance to see what it’s about.
“And it’s always nice to get an opportunity to compete in Canada and show the people what it is that you do.”
After Victoria, it’s back to Europe for the Aviva Grand Prix in Birmingham, England, on July 10. Three days after that it’s back to this side of the pond for the International Classic in Toronto. If it’s July 22 it must be Monaco and the Herculis 2011. July 29? It’s Stockholm and the DN Galan.
After that he will return to Kamloops for most of August. Not that he’ll be vacationing. Rather, he will be preparing for the big one — the World championships in Daegu, South Korea. He throws on Sept. 2.
Armstrong actually has been enjoying life in Kamloops for the last while, after being home for “about three days since Dec. 28.”
After a good winter of training in Arizona and at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, near San Diego, Armstrong was ready for the start of the season.
He rattled off six straight victories and now is leading the Diamond League standings. He also has risen to No. 3 in the world rankings.
“I’m feeling really good,” he says. “I’m settling into a new program here. I’ve definitely got to take it up another notch this next month and then come back to basics again and then take it up even higher for the World championships.”
And then you might think the pace will slow. Right?
“It gets realy crazy after Korea,” Armstrong says. “I’ve got about seven competitions after Korea.
“You just keep the pace going.”

By GREGG DRINNAN
Daily News Sports Editor
Dylan Armstrong has competed on a street in Lawrence, Kan., in Stockholm’s city centre and in a train station in Zurich, Switzerland.
He has a dream of throwing the shot somewhere in downtown Kamloops.
“I have some plans . . . probably,” Armstrong says when the idea of bring world-class throwers to Kamloops is broached. “I’m going to say . . . maybe not next year but . . . I don’t know. We’ll see.”
In April, Armstrong competed in the Kansas Relays, with the shot put competition — The Street Shot — held on Eighth Street, between Massachusetts and New Hampshire streets. It was the first time in U.S. history that such a competition had been held on a city’s downtown street.
“It was right on a street with cafes and bars on each side of it,” says Armstrong, who won in Lawrence. “It was an amazing event.”
He says he has competed in The Big Shot in Stockholm, which is held right in the city centre.
And then there’s Zurich . . .
“It’s right inside a train station, if you can believe it,” Armstrong says. “It’s totally insane there are so many people watching.
“Maybe eventually I can get something like that into Kamloops.”
If it is to happen, it wouldn’t be until 2013 or, more likely, 2014, thanks to 2012 being an Olympic year.
Of course, Kamloops once played host to a throws exhibition of sorts. It was June 5, 2003, and nine of the world’s best were here for the Best Western Kamloops Hammer International.
Back then, Armstrong was an up-and-coming hammer thrower.
Now he’s the world’s third-ranked shot putter.
And you would have to think he could draw a crowd in his hometown.

gdrinnan@kamloopsnews.ca
     
gdrinnan.blogspot.com
     
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