As a result of the “foul or no foul” scandal in the men’s shot at the recent World Championships, throws obsessives are a lot more familiar with Joe Kovacs’ feet today than they were a couple of weeks ago.
That’s Joe above. Those are his feet below.
And if you took a moment from trying to figure out if that really was a foul to ask yourself “What in the heck brand of shoes is that man wearing?” I can provide an answer to the second of those two mysteries.
Joe is wearing a prototype of a shoe that he is developing under the auspices of a company called Velaasa, which was founded by former University of Minnesota throws coach Lynden Reder.
Lynden started working at Minnesota in the fall of 2008, and stepped down after the 2016 outdoor season tired of the travel demands of DI coaching.
After taking a month off to ponder his future, Coach Reder decided to start a business. His love for the sport of track and field dictated the direction of that business. A desire to solve a series of problems he had run into as a coach dictated the focus.
The first problem he decided to take on was, as he put it, “a lack of attractive, highly-functional, Olympic lifting shoes on the market.”
Having once considered a career in graphic design, he decided to use his long dormant artistic skills to design “the most athletic-looking lifting shoe of all time.”
The result was a product that Lynden dubbed the “Strake.”
Besides being a sharp-looking shoe, this product will come with three different heights of wooden heel that can easily be interchanged, and which can be decorated with a school logo.
The next problem Coach Reder decided to tackle was the inconsistency in diameter among shots and hammers of varying weights. He explained that “at Minnesota, we did a lot of training with light and heavy implements, but it could be awkward for the thrower as a sixteen-pound shot might be 129mm in diameter but a six-kilo shot might have a diameter of 110mm.”
Lynden’s favorite implements at Minnesota were those manufactured by Polanik, so he flew to Poland for a meeting and came home with an agreement to be a dealer for Polanik products including a newly designed line of training implements with consistent diameters.
For example, they will offer women’s shots in the 3k to 5k range in 0.25k increments, with all implements from 3k to 4.5k having the same 113mm diameter.
On the men’s side, they will offer shots from 14 to 18 pounds in 1lb increments, all with a diameter of 135mm. Additionally, they will produce a 125mm 6k shot and a 9k at both 135mm and 154mm.
A similar variety of training implements for the weight, discus, and hammer will also be available.
A final problem that Coach Reder hopes to address through Velaasa is the difficulty that post-collegiate throwers in this country face in supporting themselves while continuing their careers.
He thinks he has a solution that will help grow his business while offering post-collegians a chance to make some money.
That solution is the Velaasa Track Club.
Club members, such as the aforementioned Joe Kovacs, will use their contacts (social media and otherwise) to promote Velaasa products. When a customer purchases an item from Velaasa, they can designate Joe to receive a commission.
As mentioned above, Joe has been working with Velaasa to develop a rotational shot put shoe, and may collaborate with them on other products as well.
According to Lynden, “One of the biggest things that differentiates us is that if you sign with the Velaasa Track Club, you will own your personal brand, we will partner with you to design a shoe or other products, and it will lead to a long term commitment with our company,”
And, rather than being at the mercy of a certain behemoth athletic wear company which has been known to giveth and taketh away sponsorship deals with little regard for the well being of the athlete, Lynden wants to give Velaasa reps “the opportunity to leverage their network to bring in revenue. And, since we are a small company, we can give lots of support and personal attention.”
For more information, visit https://velaasa.com/