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.

As with any addiction, it impacts not just us, but everyone close to us. Sometimes it pulls people in; sometimes it pushes people away. I inherited my addiction from Harold Connolly, my first mentor who passed away six years ago today. His addiction pulled me in to the event and changed my life for the better, as it did with so many other people.

→ Related Content: I write an annual remembrance of Harold Connolly and his contributions to our sport. Check out our other posts here.

Seeing Addiction Positively

ConnollyEarlier this year I had a chance to sit down and talk about training with Harold’s widow, the world-class sprint coach Pat Connolly. After we were finished I asked her a few questions about Harold. She knew him from a different perspective than the hammer world did, and I wanted to see how she viewed him. As with the rest of us, she confirmed Harold was as addicted behind closed doors as he was in public:

“I have a unique perspective on Harold. I didn’t know him very well during his glory days. We came together when he was 40 but still competing. Harold was always obsessed with the hammer throw. That was his whole identity. He was in the vortex and never got out of it. That defined him. It was passion from his first toss of a hammer to that last summer when he took Pete Cyr’s kids out to test out a new Orbiton hammer. It was his total passion. That is what separated him and allowed him to overcome his handicap.”

Sure sounds like addiction to me and living with an addict is not easy. The time you spend doing something takes away from time with your loved ones. We can all relate to this struggle. How did she cope with it? I asked her if she had any advice for my wife:

“Yeah, divorce. No seriously, if he infected you, I am so sorry. But a tip for your wife would be to understand that a life without passion is not worth living. She should be thankful that you have something that really challenges you and opens up your mind and brings you satisfaction.”

Passion Beyond Addiction

Viewing addiction in this light highlights its benefits, but if we are not careful it can also be used to justify our flaws. Instead of only using passion as an excuse for selfishness, take that passionate spirit and spread it across our life. You’ve shown you are capable of passion, but you only are a real success when you use it broadly. This is where I really learned from Harold. You have to be able to focus on something else if you are going to thrive. That means seeing the world is about more than throwing. Pat saw the passion all over with her husband:

“One of the things in my marriage to Harold that was cool was that we were friends. We argued about things, sure, but he also listened to me. What was wonderful from my perspective was that when I wrote a speech or article he would take the time to edit it and we would talk about it. He paid attention to me, and more than just occasionally. When he paid attention to me that made up for a lot of the other absences. His input was valuable.”

And as focused as Harold was, he still found time for family and his other passion: teaching. In talking with Pat, Hal was perhaps a better teacher than coach and he certainly impacted more lives through teaching. Hammer taught him to be passionate, but he took his passion and applied it to many things.

As my wife and I celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary last weekend, this topic has been on my mind a lot. I am not always successful, but I try to follow Hal’s lead here. I hope you do too.

1 reply
  1. Glenn McAtee
    Glenn McAtee says:

    Great post, Martin. Hal was a great man and his death was a great loss to the hammer community: we lost some of his passion when we lost him. Hal would be so proud of the time and energy you put into what you do.


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