Mon, September 23, 2013

It's hammer time for straight-shooting Frizell

By TIM BAINES, QMI Agency


Sultana Frizell competes in the women's hammer throw at the Toronto International Track & Field Games in Toronto, Ont., July 11, 2012. (MARK BLINCH/Reuters)

OTTAWA - Twenty minutes on the phone with Sultana Frizell evokes a lot of emotions, mostly happiness.

Her sense of humour and candidness, with a sprinkling in of F-bombs, are refreshing; there is nothing cliche, nothing cookie cutter about the 27-year-old pride of Perth. You can't help but smile — she has 50 shades of likeability — and root for her as she pursues Olympic glory.

Things just come out of her mouth. She jokes that maybe she'll have to be muzzled by track and field officials. That would be a shame.

Frizell earned her ticket to London with a second-place finish at the recent Canadian track and field trials. Her best throw of 69.21 metres in the hammer throw was well below a huge toss of 75.4 in March in Tucson, a fling which beat her own Canadian record by 2.80 metres.

"When you get up to 75 metres, it's like the BMW club," said Frizell. "Nationals for me were just taking care of business," said Frizell. "I've got bigger fish to fry."

Turns out she wasn't operating at full strength at nationals, or really anywhere need it.

"I got food poisoning," said Frizell. "I'm thinking, 'Oh, sweet Jesus, let me be upright so I can throw the hammer.' I felt OK on the day (of the competition). I had missed a full day of training. And a whole day for me is a lot."

The bottom line is she'll get a chance to do what she does best: Toss a 4-kg steel ball attached to a wire.

She'll use a 33rd-place finish at the 2008 Beijing Games, with a throw of 65.44 metres, as motivation. She admits she wasn't ready.

"I want this to be a different story than Beijing was," said Frizell. "Beijing came as a bit of a surprise. I didn't think it would happen. I had changed coaches, changed cities (moving to Kamloops) and basically changed my life.

"I don't feel like I tapped my potential. London had been what I had been focusing on. With Beijing, it was like 'Holy f---, I've just made the Olympic team.' "

A disappointing and frustrating 2011 season is long gone, pushed to the outer recesses of her mind. Positive thoughts only, please.

She's benefited from the training of Ukrainian coach, Dr. B, Anatoliy Bondarchuk. Coach and athlete have a great, often playful relationship.

She'll toss the hammer and tell the coach it has gone a certain distance. Coach will beg to differ.

"That old boy has the eye of an eagle," said Frizell.

Sometimes, Dr. B puts his wife's Ukrainian cake on the line if Frizell can heave that ball a certain distance.

"When Dr. B makes training about food, this monkey dances," said Frizell.

An only child to Ken and Darlene, Frizell played volleyball and basketball ("I sure as hell didn't want to play soccer or tennis ... there was too much running") at Perth and District Collegiate Institute, where she graduated with fellow Olympians Nick Tritton and Mike Brown.

She also played baseball — against boys — and was a figure skater. As she continued to grow — to six feet and more than 220 lbs. — the idea of twirling around in a frilly dress became less and less appealing.

She's very close to her mom; the two get each other going.

"As much as my mom thinks I'm her girl, I'm a daddy's girl," said Frizell with a chuckle. "I think I have my dad's looks and sarcasm and my mom's button pushing."

When she was 13, she got an introduction to track and field's power events at the cottage when her dad dug a rock out of the lake, pulled out some old 1970s dinner plates and a broomstick handle and assembled makeshift shotput, discus and javelin instruments. At a track meet a couple of years later, Frizell came across the hammer throw. She trained with the Ottawa Lions, under coach Joe Burke.

Frizell took a scholarship at the University of Georgia. She won her first national championship in 2007.

With the clock winding down to her Olympic moment, Frizell is on track ... focused.

"(Competing in the Olympics) is bigger than the hardware," he said. "It's me and the hammer, in the circle, enjoying the moment and doing what I do. I don't want to put a number in it. I will say going in I am confident."

And then she slides back into a mode in which she's totally comfortable.

That huge, hearty laugh ... and sense of humour.

If things go as planned, if she throws like she knows she can, she'll "make some McLovin in the circle."

THE FRIZELL FILE

  • Sport: Hammer throw
  • Age: 27
  • Height: 6 feet
  • Born: Perth
  • Residence: Kamloops
  • Olympic experience: 2008 Beijing
  • Twitter: @Sultythrows