Who Wants to Go to Tokyo?
Dude walks into a room. He’s not impressively tall, but certainly bigger than most people. He’s smiling from ear to ear, everyone is smiling and laughing when they see him, and he’s giving big hugs to everyone. The dude everyone loves hanging around. It’s Alex Rose. His arms are hanging to his freaking knees, his quads are some of the largest quads you have ever seen, his hands are massive and he is intently listening to who you are and your story.
In 2015, Alex was a young discus thrower with a PR just over 58 meters. He and I linked up in the fall of 2015 in preparation for 2016. I had seen him throw a few times online, he moved well, was undersized from a mass perspective, he was very explosive but had mediocre to bad technical movement. He told me he needed to make the Olympics in 2016 for Samoa. We started to get to work, knowing he either needed to hit 65 meters or at least be in the top 32 in the world.
The task seemed daunting, I was a young coach and had no clue what to expect. How well would this dude hold himself accountable, did he take the dream seriously or was it a side hobby he would dream up and talk about at the bar on the weekend? In a 4 month time frame, I learned quickly how serious he was. He would consistently send me throwing videos, he would allow me to analyze and post them on YouTube. He wanted to get better, he finally realized he needed a technical model. He needed a guide to understand what the heck he should be doing in the circle and a guide to lead him to develop more explosive mass in the weight room.
By December of 2015, Alex had PR’d at Grand Valley State University at an indoor meet and by outdoors of 2016, he was throwing 62m+. His internal drive was being cultivated, his work ethic set in stone and his happy go lucky personality handled the constant technical criticism perfectly. By late spring in Claremont, California, Alex hit a monster 65 meter throw and qualified for the 2016 Olympics. He did it, adding six meters to his throw in a year. Alex made the trip to Rio, proud and motivated for more.
Throughout 2017, Alex had a solid year. He had added over 1.5 meters to his average, something I find to be very valuable for long term development. Alex ended up throwing in the high 64’s for a season best and still managed to qualify for the 2017 World Championships in London. He entered the meet and placed 14th overall, throwing 61m and hitting an international stage personal best.
Like most throwing careers, if an athlete does make another jump to the next level, it becomes very hard financially to support themselves. Alex got married and was forced into finding a full time job. With his wife’s full support to train and work, Alex got a 45 hour a week job, driving nearly 800-1,000 miles a week. Alex, his wife and I knew it would be a difficult year. At best, 2018 would be a transition year, at worse it could potentially derail his career. The overarching goal was to get through the year injury free and to reevaluate the situation.
Throughout 2018, Alex found himself training in hotel gyms on the regular. He’d be forced to throw in back corners of a local YMCA or if he was lucky enough, he could be throwing off a concrete sidewalk over tennis courts. No training partners, an irregular training schedule, joints and muscle fascia tightening up from the hours of sitting and Alex realized it’d be a hard road ahead. He threw in two competitions, barely breaking 61 meters. The haters trolled in. He’s done, Dane sucks, Alex only went to the Olympics because he throws for Samoa, Dane sucks, Alex was overrated, Dane sucks. Only one statement is true out of the last sentence and that’s the statement repeated three times.
As 2018 came to a close, Alex made it clear to me that he felt as though he had figured out how to train and work at the same time. He began to balance his time more precisely, he got rid of distractions and began to send even more throwing videos. If you have followed his analyzed throws on ThrowsU, it’s easy to recognize how often Alex travels simply by the variety of circles he trains in!
Early spring of 2019 showed to be promising, a meet in 64, a few at 63 and high 62 meters. He was showing to come back into form. With his world ranking seemingly high enough, we decided to sit back and get some serious training work executed. Alex continued to work his ass off at his job while hammering the weights and throws as much as possible, all while maintaining his happy go lucky personality, being the dude everyone wants to be around. Alex and I discussed potentially easing back on the intensity for about a week heading into our meet at Garage Strength to test for a big result to solidify a spot for this years World Championships in Doha.
That was when things really changed. It’s important to see the journey of training as a long term process. It takes a year or so to embrace weight room training, then about 2-4 years to fully embrace technical aspects of the sport. However, it takes years to fully grasp the root behind why we train, why we compete. Alex spent time with his badass wife, trying to fully put his life in perspective. Their family was young and one day they may want to have kids. What should he do? Continue to work like a dog and train half ass or perhaps enjoy the job a little more and embrace the introspective process regarding throws at a higher level?
The Vision Quest guided Alex down an amazing path. A path showing him that work is possible and can be done at an effective level but the thing that makes him happiest is throwing the discus and training to make it back to the Olympics. This didn’t necessarily change his daily schedule but instead it changes the daily urgency to embrace every moment as a positive experience contributing to his long term development as an individual.
The Garage Strength meet was scheduled for Friday afternoon at 5pm and Saturday at noon. Alex was unfortunate enough to have his flight delayed quite a bit, not arriving into New Jersey until about 2am on the day of his competition. No complaining, just an adjustment to his schedule. Sleep longer, get some mobility work done at the MobilityDoc and get to the meet with technical goals in mind. Alex showed up at Garage Strength, he might be everyone’s favorite remote athlete. Always excited to be in the gym, bringing the positive energy and showing some love to the Garage Strength community.
Everyone headed to the circles, time to toss. High schoolers went first while the collegiates and post-collegiates warmed up. We knew the competition would be a solid setting. Good music, decent circle and sector and numerous discus bombers by the likes of Sam Welsh, Sam Mattis, Noah Kennedy-White, Josh Syrotchen, Legend Hayes, Cam Yon and Sarah Thornton. This was a field stacked with NCAA champs, All-Americans, overall a solid group of freaks.
Alex took a non, said his hamstring was killing him. Took one full and smashed it, then went and sat down for the remaining 10 minutes. It was interesting to note that everyone else was taking 7-8 throws to warm up while Alex took two. He looked prepared to throw well, he had his technical focus and he always has his cannon ready to roll. Come around the left more, get the right down earlier than normal and just smashmode the finish. Throw one was fast but out of control, a solid foul but a no mark nonetheless. He came over and said, “If I can get the right down earlier, I feel good at the front.” Five minutes later, he got his right down earlier and smashed the front.
66.31. The experience still plays back in slow motion. I was confident this throw was a season best and also confident in him making Doha. When they announced the 66, my gut reaction was, “A PR. He’s done it. He’s figured out how to manage his schedule.” This was quickly followed by, “Holy shit, that guarantees he gets into Doha,” then as soon as that thought popped into my head I quickly shifted to a slight thought of Tokyo but before my thought process was inacted, Alex was in a full sprint toward me.
“I did it! That’s the Olympic standard!! We are going.” Then the 310lb monster ran at me and for a brief moment I thought he was going to hurt me while jumping on me! That was ok, the joy, the stress release, the happiness, the guidance that took him down the realization of the sporting process, it was all worth it!
The moment of him qualifying for Tokyo is why I coach. I coach for the emotional experience, the ability to share something so special with someone that badass. It’s a feeling I will never forget. Alex Rose, soon to be a 2 time Olympian.
This gets us good time into Doha. A few very solid weeks of training are ahead of us, we know what taper works, we know how to keep him healthy we just need to stay on top of mobility and in contact with MobilityDoc. He is now ranked 11th in the entire world and has the two biggest meets qualified for over the next year. First will be a goal to make a World Champs final in Doha. Then we will hammer work and build toward a dream of holding an Olympic medal. There’s no better time to continue building toward the visions than now!