Dylan Armstrong throws his way into Canadian sport history
Shot putter Dylan Armstrong, the pride of Kamloops, B.C., went where no Canadian has gone before Friday – onto the podium in a throwing event at the world track championships.
Armstrong missed a medal by a mere one centimetre at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, but would not be denied this time around in uncorking a throw of 21.64 metres on his fourth of sixth throws to take the the silver medal in the event. He pumped his big arms into the air after it landed as a few Canadian flags fluttered in the crowd in the stadium in Daegu, South Korea.
“It's awesome, it was an amazing night tonight,” said Armstrong on an Athletics Canada conference call. “I'm very, very pleased to get on the podium. A medal's a medal. It was obvioulsy a very tight competition, but a very great competition. It was a great feeling. I've trained really, really hard for this and I'm definitely happy. It sets me up for next year going into London.”
It was almost gold. It took a tremendous heave of 21.78 metres by David Storl of Germany on the second last throw of an event that feature four former world championships to snatch the victory from Armstrong, who was too gassed from the oppressive heat to surpass it on his final toss.
“It's just gives you that extra boost and that confidence going into next year knowing you can win and get on the podium,” he said. “I've gotta just keep doing what I've been doing, listening to my coach. Obviously without him, I wouldn't have been on the podium. He's the main force behind everything.”
Armstrong is always quick to give a lot of the credit to his coach, , the legendary Dr. Anatoliy Bondarchuk, an Olympic champion hammer thrower for the Soviet Union.
“He's an absolute genius,” he said. “He's very smart in how he does his periodization and his programming. With his years expertise and study, he's one of a kind. Athletics Canada hired him six and a half years ago and now he put me on the podium. It really shows what he can do.”
The 30-year-old is the first Canadian in track and field history to win a medal in a throwing event at the world championships or Olympics. It was an important achievement for a Canadian team on which he was the lone serious medal contender entering the event.
“There was a lot of pressure this year to try and get my country a medal. I think I handled it really well and used it as much as I can to train harder and have that drive coming in here. It just shows with a lot of hard work and a lot of support, especially being in the community that I'm from, Kamloops, it's totally awesome. I'm just so happy to bring back my community a medal.”
Armstrong is enjoying his best season ever. He leads the Diamond League circuit with three victories and has the world leading throw of 22.21 metres this season, set at the Canadian championships. There'll be no vacation to enjoy his success as he has seven more meets this season.
“I can do that when I'm a little more older,” he said.
(photo by Phil Noble, REUTERS)