Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Getting ready to take on the world

(Photo by Keith Anderson/Kamloops Daily News)
Daily News Sports Editor
The NFL’s San Diego Chargers are well into their training camp.
But not every big guy in the area is a prospective NFL player.
Shot putter Dylan Armstrong, the pride of Kamloops, is training at the ARCO Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, which is just a few miles south of Chargers Park.
Armstrong, owner of the world’s best throw this season, is preparing for the 13th World Championships in Athletics that runs in Daegu, South Korea, from Aug. 27 through Sept. 4.
“We’re going hard,” the 6-foot-4, 310-pound Armstrong said late Monday after yet another workout. “We’ve been going hard at it. We’re right on schedule.”
According to All-Athletics.com, Armstrong, 30, will arrive in Daegu as the top-ranked shot putter in the world, but by only the narrowest of margins over American rival Christian Cantwell, 31.
American veteran Reese Hoffa, 34, is third, with Poland’s Tomasz Majewski, 30, fourth and American Ryan Whiting, the baby of the group at 25, ranked fifth.
Armstrong threw 22.21 metres in winning the Canadian championship in Calgary on June 25. No one has thrown further this season.
American Adam Nelson, who goes into the worlds ranked No. 6, threw 22.09m in Eugene, Ore., on June 26. No one else has gone over 22m.
However, the big boys have dialed it down lately — only one of the top 10 throws in the world this year came after June 30 — as they all attempt to peak in Daegu.
Right now, Armstrong said, he is “focussing on getting some big throws in training and rhythm.”
These days, two weeks before Daegu, distance isn’t the be-all and end-all.
“It’s feel right now,” he said. “We definitely have to get the rhythm going and the technique will follow.”
As he pointed out, it would be impossible for a world-class athlete to get his game to the highest possible level in the spring and stay there through autumn.
“It’s very, very difficult to always be on top week in and week out,” he stated. “There comes a point where you’re thinking that if you want to throw any further or get into a higher consistent level of bigger throws you’re going to have to get back to some really hard work and not just maintain stuff. . . . at some point in the game you have to break your body down.”
Which is what he has been doing in Chula Vista where it’s early to bed and early to rise. He gets up at 6:30 a.m., works out from 9 a.m. until noon, goes for a massage treatment, eats, rests, and is back for two more hours of working out starting at 5 p.m.
“We’ve started a new training phase going into Daegu,” Armstrong said. “I’m getting beat down hard here so it’s good . . . it’s good . . . I’m feeling good . . . tired but good.”
He is joined there by the internationally reknowned Dr. Anatoliy Bondarchuk, his coach at the National Throws Centre in Kamloops. Armstrong has complete trust in his coach and, as he said, “We kind of do it meet by meet. He just tells me. I show up and he tells me what to do.”
The key right now is that it’s just “the coach and I.”
“You have to be . . . just you and your coach,” Armstrong said. “(You have to) get away from everything and really close in on things.
“You try and just focus on the task at hand. That’s one of the reasons why I’m down here . . . to get a new, fresh approach and get that concentration in the great environment I’m in down here.”
And he feels it’s working.
“We are really starting to put things together,” he said. “We’ll go to Daegu and compete to win.”
Armstrong will head for Daegu on Aug. 27. The qualifying rounds are scheduled for Sept. 1, 10 a.m., with the final the next day at 7 p.m. (Daegu is 14 hours ahead of Kamloops, meaning qualifying will begin Aug. 31 at 8 p.m. PT, with the final Sept. 2 at 5 a.m.)
As large as this meet is, it isn’t the end of Armstrong’s season.
He will leave there on Sept. 5 and head for Zurich and a Samsung Diamond League meet on Sept. 8. Then it’s over to Berlin for the IAAF World Challenge on Sept. 11 and into Zagreb, Croatia, for another IAAF meet two days later.
His season will end Sept. 16 in Brussels, Belgium, at the Diamond League finale. Armstrong has led the Diamond League standings for most of the season, and now has 13 points, six more than Cantwell and Hoffa.
Armstrong has won three of the four meets he has entered, at US$10,000 per victory. Should he win the overall title, he will earn another $40,000, along with the Diamond Trophy.

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