Sunday, July 10, 2011

Armstrong slingin' in the rain

Daily News Sports Editor
Rain? What rain?
Dylan Armstrong, the Kamloops strongman, ignored the driving rain Sunday in Birmingham, England, as he continued his dominance of the Samsung Diamond League shot putting competition.
Armstrong, 30, threw 21.55 metres with his fourth and final attempt to win the shot put at the Aviva Grand Prix in Alexander Stadium.
He had thrown 20.70, 20.45 and 21.34, in order, with his first three attempts.
“It rained like crazy,” Armstrong said. “It wasn’t pretty. There was a lot of rain.”
He said the downpour “probably wasn’t as bad as Edmonton . . . it was just consistent rain, a real downpour.”
Armstrong was to have competed at a meet in Edmonton on June 29, but a heavy storm cancelled that meet and also shut down the airport, preventing him from getting to Lausanne, Switzerland, for a Diamond League meet there on June 30.
He competed in Vancouver on July 1 and in Victoria on July 3 before heading to Birmingham.
This was the first time the Diamond League has stopped in Birmingham and a new 5,000-seat section for fans was unveiled prior to the meet. A sold-out crowd of more than 12,700 attended Sunday’s action.
“The stands were packed. There were a lot of people there,” Armstrong said. “These meets are packed; there’s thousands of people at them.”
Tomasz Majewski of Poland was second, at 20.90, with American Christian Cantwell, the reigning world champion, third at 20.86. Cantwell set the meet record of 22.45 on June 11, 2006.
After five of seven meets, Armstrong leads the Diamond League standings with 12 points, well ahead of Majewski and Cantwell, who are tied for second, each with five.
A victory is worth US$10,000 and four points in the standings, with $6,000 and two points for second place and $4,000 and one point for third. Points will be doubled for the league’s final meet, in Brussels, Belgium, on Sept. 16.
At season’s end, the overall winner will get $40,000 and the Diamond Race Trophy.
Armstrong went into July ranked second in the world, behind Cantwell, with American Reese Hoffa in third spot. Armstrong has the longest throw in the world this year, having set a Canadian record of 22.21 as he won his sixth national title at the Canadian championships in Calgary on June. 25.
Of the eight competitors in the shot put on Sunday, only Armstrong and Majewski didn’t foul. Hoffa, who is one of Armstrong’s main rivals, finished seventh. He threw 20.09, fouled, threw 18.20, then fouled again.
“I think the weather got into a lot of guys’ heads,” Armstrong stated before laughing and adding: “I’m used to training in that.
Armstrong said he knew the weather was coming so “I was prepared for it. It rains here a lot. I just stayed focused throughout the whole competition and I was happy with it.
“In those conditions, I was extremely happy with how I threw. It was good.”
Armstrong was scheduled to catch a morning flight to Brussels and then fly to Toronto, where he will compete Wednesday in the International Games, a National Track League (NTL) meet, at the U of Toronto’s Varsity Centre.
Toronto will mark his final competitive appearance in Canada this year.
“Hopefully, I’ll put on a good performance there,” he said. “It’s the last meet of the NTL. Then I’ll gear up for Monaco and Stockholm.”
After Toronto, he plans to come home for five days to train, before leaving for Diamond League meets in Monaco (July 22) and Stockholm (July 28).
After that, he will return to Kamloops for a few more days and then he will leave for San Diego where he will train for a month in preparation for the World championships in Daegu, South Korea. The shot put competition is scheduled for Aug. 27.
“It’ll be nice to get back to basics and get in some good training,” Armstrong said.
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