July 20, 2012
Armstrong confident of a shot at medal
By STEVE BUFFERY, QMI Agency
The task for Canadian shot put great Dylan Armstrong was simple.
Finish in the top three at the Canadian Olympic track and field trials June 30 at Calgary's Foothills Athletic Park and earn a trip to the London Olympics. One more Diamond League meet in Paris in early July and then off to a final pre-Olympic training camp in the south of Portugal and then on to London and try to win a medal.
But you never would have known that Armstrong was at all worried at the Olympic trials. Finishing in the top three was not a huge task for the native of Kamloops, B.C., but it was nothing to sneeze at either. Anything can happen at a meet. Yet, throughout the competition on a sunny and breezy day in Calgary, Armstrong seemed much more concerned about his fellow competitor, up and coming shot putter Tim Nedow, than about himself.
Armstrong, the defending world championship silver medallist and Canadian record holder (22.21 metres), and fellow Kamloops-based shot putter Justin Rodhe, already had attained the Olympic standard to compete in London. Nedow had not. So, Armstrong took it upon himself to do everything possible, short of throwing one of Nedow's shots himself, to help the native of Brockville, Ont., attain the needed distance of 20.50. Between throws, Armstrong wandered over to Nedow to offer words of encouragement and advice and just before Nedow's throws, cheered "Come on Tim. Let's go!"
The problem was, the cement throwing circle at the shot put venue was slippery and the athletes, particularly, it seemed, the taller ones, had trouble getting a sold footing.
"It's like glass," Armstrong said to his coach, Dr. Anatoliy Bondarchuk, at one point between throws. "You can't put any pressure down to push."
Armstrong, and others, tried putting chalk on the bottom of their shoes, but that did not prevent their feet from slipping.
Unfortunately, the best Nedow could do on the day was 20.21, failing to qualify for the Olympics.
Armstrong, despite his disappointment with the throwing circle and the fact his pal did not make the Olympic team, stood afterward at the fence signing autographs before a track official whisked him off to a press conference. Armstrong won the competition with a throw of 21.29.
"We had three guys over 20 metres and, as Canadians, that's very impressive," said Armstrong, who heads to London in pretty good shape to win a medal. Armstrong's top distance this season is 21.50, which places him seventh on the IAAF list for the year. But the top eight or so are all very close (only Reese Hoffa of the U.S. has cracked the 22-metre barrier) and the 31-year-old Canadian feels he has as good a chance as any to ascend on to the podium.
"It's very deep," he said. "Any one of us can win on the day. The personal bests of these guys coming in (to London), most of them are over 22 metres, or darn close. So yeah, it's challenging, but I'm going to go in there and throw the best I can throw."
Which is what he did at the previous Summer Olympics, 2008 in Beijing. Armstrong threw a Canadian record 21.04 to finish fourth, an agonizing .01 metres behind bronze medallist Andrei Mikhnevich of Belarus. Not that Armstrong needs any extra motivation heading toward London, but that close call in Beijing can only inspire him perform great things.
"I'd like to throw over 22 metres (at the Games)," Armstrong said. "That's a goal, and I can definitely do that. I've got over three weeks now to go after it and get in some really good training.
"There's a lot of hard work still. We're not there yet.
"Technically, there's some work to do. But I'm definitely happy with how it was (at the Canadian trials) and I'm hoping for some good things. Anybody can win it. These guys who are top eight in the world, anybody can do it."
Including the guy wearing red and white.