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Worlds Part 3: Shot Put Qualifying
Saturday August 5th was the date of the men’s shot put qualifying round. The start time was 10AM, that meant an early morning for Tim Nedow and I as we prepared for him to make his first world final qualification. I needed to be at Tim’s hotel by 7:15AM. After the long night of discus qualification, I was pretty exhausted. Bed time was 2:00AM because of a late trip back to the hotel, dinner and then a long note session for what we needed to work on for Alex and his future international competitions. Fortunately, our hotel had excellent coffee and I knew I could get geared up on 3 cups of Joe as I walked over to Tim’s hotel.
Tim had been awake since 6AM. I headed over to his hotel, grabbed some breakfast and had my first close encounter with David Storl. Tim is a big dude, 6’8/305lbs...but holy shit, Storl is close to him in height and probably a stout 315-320. Ironically, my entire attitude had changed from the previous night. I didn’t give a shit that it was Storl, I got amped up and wanted Tim to smash one to beat Storl! I grabbed my breakfast, went downstairs and found TimmayKat (Tim) by the cafe in the lobby. Canadian coach, Richard Parkinson, hooked me up with Tim’s seating pass and then my Team Leader pass granted me access to all of the warm up areas and even call area. Richard (private coach for world finalist, Brittany Crew and Canadian NextGen coach) and I had a good discussion about Tim and our expectations and a brief discussion of what we would be doing upon arrival and then our preparation for qualification once we got into the stadium.
TimmayKat and I got on the bus around 7:20, we left for the stadium and again discussed our approach. Get to the warm up track, have some coffee, do a light stretch out and warm up the body, then wait for the call room at 8:49AM. At the warm up track and bullshitted around, took in the surroundings and just talked training and competing. Tim even bitched at me for not wearing a Canadian shirt so of course I swiped his Canadian team jacket for the competition! This helped ease the nerves and prepare for the call to the track. Once Tim would get to the call room, he would start further mental and physical preparation, raise his body temperature and really start to loosen up his joints to toss a big one.
Tim typically warms up fast. Good solid stretching, a few standing throws and he is ready to roll. Tim took a shot to the side and did some ground stand throws, then did a handful of dry turns to really feel positions before he headed into the circle for his two warm up tosses. His first toss was nice and easy, got the blood flowing and took in the surroundings. Keep in mind, it was 9:40AM and the stadium was PACKED!!! 65,000 people in attendance to watch the morning session of track and field. After his first full throw, he came over to the rail, took two cues, then did a handful of dry spins to really feel positions again and as the clock was winding down on warm ups, he took his second full throw. He smashed it. Technique looked excellent, he had good pop on the throw and he was ready to roll. Tim felt confident and we knew it would take 20.30 to 20.50 to qualify.
The competition was stacked!!! Numerous guys in the field were peppering the 22 meter line. There were two circles running at the same time with the scoreboard being on one system updating the progression as they competed. Walsh was in great form, smoking a 22 meter throw on his first throw for the furthest qualification mark in the history of the sport. I was trolling Storl during warm ups to see what drills he does in preparation for competition as I have Lucas Warning, a 19m glider, that would benefit from any further insight to the technique. Whiting looked in good form, Crouser, Kovacs, Stanek and O’Dayne Richards all were ripping bombs. We knew it would be a tough final but we believed Tim could sneak into the top 12. Throwing on the world stage is no joke. People (myself included) are constantly critical of throwers and how they compete at the big event. As a coach sitting there, I was amped as hell but also understood the magnitude and emotions these behemoths were dealing with as they entered the circle to attempt to advance to the next round.
I had expected Tim’s first throw to be a nerves throw. A toss to get out the jitterbugs. He went through the circle and jumped on his finish a bit more than normal but still was moving well. I can’t fully recollect the first throw but I believe it was in the 19.70’s. He came to the rail and just stated that he needed to get that out of him and he was ready to hit one. We went over two cues and I told him to do a few more dry turns during the extremely long wait between throws. I was hoping a few more big guys on Tim’s circle (Kovacs, Hill, O’dayne) would hit the automatic early on to speed up the time between throws. None of these guys hit the automatic until Hill hit it in the third round (he had been called on at least one ghost foul, as had O’dayne who subsequently did not qualify). On the opposing circle, Jacko Gill, Crouser, Storl, Stanek, and Whiting hit the standard in the first two rounds.
I was taking it all in. Gagg’s coach, the Romanian shot putter, was sitting next to me. It was interesting to see and listen to their interactions during the competition. Same for Haratyk and Konrad’s coach who sat in front of me. I liked seeing what they were coaching and see how they were handling the situation. At this point, it was apparent that these coaches handled the intense competition very differently. Some of them were extremely intense and almost overly aggressive, yelling at their athletes to throw farther while some of the coaches were extremely laid back, gave sound advice and told their thrower to just clear their head and throw!!! Seems simple.
Tim looked good in dry runs and was called for his second attempt. He entered the circle less jittery, eyed down the sector and went back to his wind. He looked excellent out of the back, caught the shot in the middle in a more upright position and not as hunched over with his posture. Left leg rotated well and he stayed on the finish significantly better. He went 20.09 for a World championship/Olympic competition PB. He never threw over 20m at either of these competitions. This made me feel good that he was prepared for a solid 20.30 - 20.50 throw on his last attempt.
Entering the third round, Tim was in 11th, then bumped to 12th. Konrad had not hit a big throw, Chuk Enekwechi had not smoked one yet, the third Pole was in good form as was O’Dayne and Gagg the Romanian had a big foul that would have put him in the mix. I knew the third round would be intense on both circles. Tim seemed ready to get after one. He came to the rail, he had good solid confidence and knew he had to hit a solid throw to get into finals. His second throw was a great progression from his first throw and I believed he could smoke his third throw.
By the time Tim got into the circle on his third throw, he had been bumped to 13th on the list. It didn’t matter, we knew this would be the best qualifying ever and we knew he was in shape to take the mark! Tim looked solid, had good intensity and went in with his wind up. He rotated well around his left out of the back, hit the middle with good speed but was rushing his left side a bit through the middle. He landed just a little open at the front and then rotated out of his final position with a jump. The shot still looked snappy coming off his hand. I wasn’t sure if it was further or around the same, nor was Tim. We waited for the mark and it came up 20.11. Tim got bumped to 14th and missed the qualifying.
I went outside to the warm up track and met up with Tim after the competition. He was clearly bummed. He felt like he could hit a 20.50-21m throw but was also somewhat satisfied with the fact that he hit a World/Olympic competition PR. We discussed a few things of what we could improve upon and how the events went down. I was pleased with Tim’s performance. Obviously, I would have loved to see him make the finals but this was our first year working together. It took me a while to figure out how to push Tim in training and it always takes a few programs to see how an athlete will react to new training stimulus. I believe this was a step in the right direction for Tim and I think he can have a breakout performance at the Commonwealth Games in 2018!
In our next World Championship installment, find out how the remaining World Championship experience went as a spectator and fan of the sport, as a tourist and of course as a partier as we celebrated our trip the biggest stage of Athletics in 2017!!!