Posts

Why athletes need to give back

One of the constant struggles we have in Switzerland is keeping athletes involved in the sport after they retire. If you look at the all-time list in the hammer throw, only two of the top 25 throwers (myself included) are actively coaching. A few others coached briefly, but for the most part once athletes retire we will never see them again. Read more

For the love of the game

When asked by reporters last month about how he endured such a difficult drama-filled offseason, San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich had a quick response that put things in perspective: Read more

If Not Now, When?

If you see something that is wrong, you can do two things: act or wait. Acting is not easy; it may cost you your friends, your reputation, or your job. But in many cases it is what is needed. If you wait for someone else to change things then change will likely never come. The old saying goes “you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs.” That was definitely true in the case of Harold Connolly, the man who taught me that you can’t compromise or back down on matters of principle. Read more

So You’re Addicted to Throwing

[gview file=”Addiction is not something to joke about, but if you look around our sport it is filled with addicts. An addiction is a compulsive psychological need for a habit-forming activity. The throwing events are addicting. This is no joke; our sport has a way of burrowing into your brain and occupying your every thought and action throughout the day, especially during the Olympics. I am an addict so much that I even dedicated a blog once to taking a three-day break from training. It’s was as if I were feeling withdrawals and couldn’t wait until my next fix. Read more

The Power of Sport

When I first met Harold Connolly I was not in a good place. I had just turned 18, was starting my senior year of high school, and while my friends were picking out colleges to attend, I had trouble just motivating myself to get out of bed in the morning. I was fat, lazy, depressed and directionless. It’s hard to believe, but I weighed over 300 pounds and was failing all of my classes. Thankfully in walked Harold. Read more

Never Let Go

In the call room before the European championships qualifying round last week an official was trying to find out if he needed to change the cage setup for anyone and asked “Are any of you left handed or is everyone normal?” Szymon Ziolkowski responded “I’m not left handed, but I don’t know if I’m normal either. This season I decided to continue to train after 26 years of throwing the hammer.”
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The Times They Are a-Changin’

At the beginning of 1964 young singer-songwriter Bob Dylan released what would be one of his most popular hits, “The Times They Are a-Changin’.” The song came out during a tumultuous time around the world and these changes were not limited to politics or culture, they extended even to the hammer throw which was undergoing a rapid transformation. At the front of the sport throughout this period was one man: Harold Connolly. Read more

Harold Connolly: Grit Personified

Psychologist Angela Duckworth has done some interesting research into what personality traits can be used as predictors for success in school and other ventures. IQ, for example, is actually a poor indicator of how high a student’s GPA will be. Duckworth’s early research showed that self-control was a much more reliable predictor, but even that was not a good predictor of higher successes. As a lengthy New York Times piece summarized “People who accomplished great things, she noticed, often combined a passion for a single mission with an unswerving dedication to achieve that mission, whatever the obstacles and however long it might take. She decided she needed to name this quality, and she chose the word ‘grit.'”

When I think of grit, I think of one man: 1956 Olympic Champion Harold Connolly. Read more

Remembering Harold Connolly

One year ago, the global hammer throw community lost its greatest advocate. For the past 60 years, nearly every great american hammer thrower knew and was influenced by Harold Connolly. Some, like Kevin McMahon, were coached by him. Others didn’t even agree with him, but couldn’t avoid his impact.  While his stubbornness made many hostile, he forced even those people to look hard at their values before deciding they were correct.

I could immediately sense this when I met Harold. This led me to learn my most valuable lesson from him: every moment is a chance to teach and learn.  Read more

In Memory of the Greatest Hammer Thrower

I hate starting a day off with bad news, but that’s exactly how my Thursday started this week. I normally check my e-mail right when I get up to see what I missed during daytime in America. My first e-mail was from my father and simply entitled “Harold Connolly.” I immediately got a strange feeling about it and, as I opened it, my worst fears were confirmed. My friend and mentor, 1956 gold medalist Harold Connolly had passed away. Read more