This games is truly one of the great hidden competitions on the pro circuit. I say that simply because it is a recent addition to our lineup and it has proven to be an amazing time. Mountains, warm temperatures, sun, breeze, engaged crowds, and an amazing committee that brings it all together. Shawn Baker has been instrumental in getting pros started at this games and he created payout system that is the only one like it all season. Instead of payouts per event or an overall placing payment structure, he incentivizes the athletes with marks to hit. There’s still an overall purse to chase, but we are awarded payment bonuses if we pass certain distances in the events. I can’t thank Shawn enough for getting this started or for the amazing AD work Chuck Thomas does.
We had all nine events to throw this weekend, and here was the rundown for me:
Braemar Stone: 42’2” – 1st
Open Stone: 53’11” – 2nd
Heavy Weight for Distance: 41’9” – 3rd
Light Weight for Distance: 84’1”
Weight Over Bar: 17’ – 2nd
Heavy Hammer: 129’11.5” – 1st, New World Record
Light Hammer: 153’3” – 1st
Caber: 12:15 – 1st
Sheaf: 27’ – 5th
Overall, I was pretty pleased with my throws. Aside from sheaf, these numbers were all in line with my practice throws and early season expectations. I had been working on my light weight more this spring but was a bit negligent of my heavy weight for distance practice. I did have a bigger throw (probably 43’ or so), but fouled it out of the back. I just couldn’t get it going or feel the drive to the front of the trig. I will be working on that more, as my weights have to improve if I’m going to be competitive all season.
I was glad to see my light weight up over 84’ again. I think that’s only the second time in two years that I’ve thrown that far, so I’m hoping it is taking a turn for the better. I’ve been tweaking my technique in practice a bit, so I’m hoping to continue to improve it this year – 87’ is the goal.
The conditions in Albuquerque are almost perfect for big hammer throws; high elevation (aside from getting winded), dense grass that is watered daily, level field, lead hammers on PVC handles. It’s a great place to throw hammer, as the two times I’ve thrown there I’ve set one world record and two North American records (2012). My heavy hammer series was the best I’ve ever had: 128’10, 125’+, 126’+, 128+, 129’11.5”, 129’. I’ve been working on really driving the ball down, using the pull of gravity to help accelerate the ball. Too many times, people make the mistake of thinking the hammer is a “pull” event, when it’s really a “push” event. I like to think that I’m chopping wood. My mental cue is to: catch it early and quick and chop the wood on the right side.
By the time I got to my light hammer, I was gassed. I had a cold all week and tweaked my back a bit, so I was tight, tired and emotionally drained after the world record throw. I didn’t break it by much, that’s for sure. The old record was set by Australian Matt Sandford in 1997 in Halkirk, Scotland, at 129’10.5”. Mr Sandford is also one of only three men to ever win five world championships. When he retired from the sport, he had two world records.
In the light hammer, I had my best series to date in it, too: 145’, 151’ (foul), 153’3”, 150’+, 152’+, 150’+. I finished with four throws over 150 feet (and another I fouled). In the light hammer there is such a small window to “catch” the ball and accelerate it on the right side – if you miss it, it’ll go on past you and you’re stuck trying to catch up. 156’8.5” is the world record in this event, and while I think it’s attainable for me, it’s going to have to be an absolutely perfect throw for me to get there. I’m going to give it my best shot, though.
I have four weeks to train, fix a few things in my throws and get ready for Salt Lake City, UT on June 14th. This will be my first trip to this games and I’m excited to compete with what many believe to be the best implements on the circuit.
What a blessing this sport and opportunity has been for me and my family. God has truly blessed me with this sport, the people I’ve met and the chances I’ve had speak and share. He deserves all the credit!