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One More Week

I’m back in Seattle for the week before heading to France to open my season at the European Cup-Winter Throwing next weekend. The entries for the meet were just released and it will feature an elite field, with more than 20 throwers with bests of over 70 meters. I’m hoping to gain some international experience at the meet and approach my best opener ever (66.47m). I started lifting heavier weights again last week and have been a little sore this weekend, but training has still been going well and I know I can throw 65-67 meters in the right conditions.
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2009 Season Review

My birthday is tomorrow, so I figured it would be as good a time as any to do a assessment of my season.
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One Road Leads to Rome

1956 Gold Medalist Hal Connolly

1956 Gold Medalist Hal Connolly

I am lucky enough to have been coached by two Olympic medalists throughout my career: Harold “Hal” Connolly (’56) and Anatoli Bondarchuk (’72).  It is interesting to see how many similarities they have in their approach to the sport despite their differences in upbringing (Boston vs. the Soviet Union).  First, they are both very resourceful.  I have seen Hal at work in his shop developing various makeshift implements to throw onto astroturf fields.  Dr. B is well known within our training group for jerry-rigging hammers.  If we only have a 6-kilogram hammer and he needs a 6.5-kiogram hammer, he’ll just strap on enough bolts and washers for it to be the desired weight.  If we run out of handles, he’ll find some scrap metal and weld his own.  His solution isn’t always the safest (I’ve often been thrown to the ground as my hammer breaks), but it allows us to continue with training.
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Dinner with the Olympians

Our training group (l-r): Me, Vanessa Wilhelm, Galina Bondarchuk, Deanna Zelinka, Coach Anatoli Bondarhcuk, Megann VanderVliet, Michael Letterlough, Jennifer Joyce, Kibwe Johnson, Crystal Smith, and Justin Rodhe.

Last night I attend the Dinner with the Olympians event hosted by the Kamloops Track and Field Club.  It was a great chance for the community to hear our local Olympians speak about their experiences in Beijing.  We heard from Gary Reed (800 meters), Dylan Armstrong (shot put), Catherine Pendrel (cross-country mountain biking), and Sultana Frizell (hammer throw).  The first three all placed fourth and barely missed bringing home a medal.  Ms. Pendrel’s talk was especially interesting. It is always fun to gain some insight on how elite athletes train in other sports.  She also told one heartwarming story about how her husband sometimes would follow her in his car on her winter training rides so that she could exchange water bottles whenever the water in her water bottle froze over. The dinner was a great success for the club and raised more money for us to purchase equipment, improve our facilities, and pay our great coaching staff.
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Tune into the Olympics Tonight

My training partner Dylan Armstrong competed in the Olympic shot put final today.  The competition will be shown tape-delayed tonight on NBC, so tune in to see him.  In the second round, Dylan threw a new personal best and Canadian record of 21.04 meters (69’00.50″).  That remained his best throw throughout the competition and he sat in the bronze medal position entering his last throw.  Unfortunately, American Christian Cantwell improved on his final attempt and ended Dylan’s chance at a medal.  When the competition was over, Dylan was just one centimeter (.25 inches) shy of the bronze medal and four centimeters (1.5 inches) shy of the silver medal.  Nevertheless, he put forth one hell of an effort and should be proud of his new Canadian record. Read more

All eyes turn to Beijing

I returned home last night just in time to watch the opening ceremonies of the Olympics. I’m not a big fan of the opening ceremonies since I think it is the antithesis of what the Olympics should be about: it is full of grandeur and hype, yet lacks sports and competition. That being said, it is a sign that the greatest show on earth is about to begin. I spent the last few weeks training in Kamloops again and was able to see my training partners Sultana Frizell and Dylan Armstrong who will represent Canada for in their first Olympics. Both have a chance to place high and I can’t wait to watch them next week. Thankfully, I get CBC television here in Seattle and will be able to watch them.
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About Coach Bondarchuk

Today, I thought I would introduce everyone to my coach. Since August 2005, I have been training under the guidance of Dr. Anatoli Bondarchuk. Currently, Dr. B works for the Kamloops Track and Field Club in Kamloops, British Columbia. I met Dr. B through my friend and current training partner Dylan Amstrong. I was already familiar with Dr. B as he is universally regarded as the most best and most successful hammer throw coach in the world. Representing the Soviet Union in the hammer throw, Dr. B won the gold medal in 1972 and was also a world record holder. After his athletic career ended, Dr. B served as the national coach for the Soviet Union for nearly twenty years, in the process coaching numerous world record holders and twelve Olympic medalists in the hammer throw. After the fall of the Soviet Union, Dr. B served as a national coach in Portugal and Kuwait. His current position allows him to be close to his daughter and grandchildren currently residing in Calgary.
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