A two-time NCAA champion while throwing for Illinois State University, Tim Glover will try to show that he belongs at the top of the professional level as well when he competes in the USATF Championships this Sunday in Sacramento.
Glover announced himself as a world class javeliner this April when he unloaded a world-leading 84.01m in Knoxville. Currently, that throw ranks him 13th in the world.
It is a bit remarkable that Tim was able to unleash a throw of that caliber because at the time he was still attending classes at ISU three days per week from 9am until 3pm.
He attributes his improvement partially to an increase in strength. With a 315-lb bench press, a 500-lb back squat and a 319-lb power clean the javelin has been “feeling light” in his hand.
Also contributing to his breakthrough is his ability to maintain speed on the runway.
“Last year my coach (Scott Bennett) came in and we worked all speed. I dropped some weight and focused on how fast I could go..never could catch one, or any for that matter. I would always miss the point and it got frustrating but I kept reminding myself that this year was a transition year and if I wanted to improve in the future the speed would have to increase. This year my speed isn’t crazy on the runway but it is faster and more comfortable. I am still working on keeping it up through the crossovers and also working on driving out not up.”
Coach Bennett agrees that Tim’s increased strength has been a big plus, and he also credits Tim’s improvement in “blowing the right side through to the brake” during the last two steps of his throws.
Bennett also believes that Glover has the “perfect demeanor” for his event, describing his as “modest, independent, and even-tempered.”
That temperament will be put to the test on Sunday by a field that includes veterans such as Cyrus Hostetler, Sean Furey, and Craig Kinsley, and last year’s US champion Riley Dolezal. Also competing is the physically imposing Sam Humphreys. At the Tuscon Elite meet earlier this season, Humphreys– who looks like he might be able to throw a telephone pole 80 meters– defeated Glover in a battle to determine who would get the final spot in the jav field at the Prefontaine Diamond League meeting that took place over Memorial Day weekend.
Glover is still waiting for his first chance to go up against the world’s best.
A win on Sunday would go a long way toward establishing Glover as a consistently world class performer and possibly get him invited to some meets in Europe where he could show that he is ready to take the next next step.
In ancient Greece, Olympic champions were feted with banquets and parades, immortalized in bronze and marble.
In modern New York, they are largely ignored aside from the occasional bystander who asks, “Do you play basketball?”
Such is the fate of Valerie Adams, two-time Olympic shot put champion, arguably the greatest putter in history but perhaps born 2,500 years too late.
Val came into the Adidas Grand Prix meet in New York City last weekend looking for her 50th consecutive win. Hoping to derail the Adams Express was a field that featured Michelle Carter (who broke the American record last year with toss of 20.24m) and Yevgeniya Kolodko (the London silver medalist and owner of a 20.48m PB).
I was stoked to get a look at Kolodko and her excellent glide technique, and though I was rooting for Val to get number 50, I hoped that Carter and Kolodko would push her to extend her season best of 20.46m.
Alas, t’was not to be. In spite of perfect weather that had helped produce meet records in each of the two previous throwing events–Robert Harting’s 68.24m in the discus and Linda Stahl’s 67.32m in the javelin–and a raucous crowd that cheered Bohdan Bondarenko and Mutaz Essa Barshim through the greatest high jump dual in history, none of the women putters could get it going.
Carter opened with a respectable 19.51m, but that turned out to be her only throw over 19.00m. Kolodko had nothing. I could tell she was in trouble during warmups when she took about a million throws, none of which looked sharp, and she fared even worse during the competition with a 17.25m sandwiched by two fouls. I have to think she was injured, but I didn’t get a chance to ask her as she packed up and left while the top six took their final three throws.
Meanwhile, the Carter/Adams dual played out as more weird than dramatic. Val’s best in the first three rounds was 19.31m, but with the champ on the ropes and vulnerable to an upset, Carter followed her 19.51m with an uninspired-looking 18.57m and 18.39m.
It must have been a strange feeling for Val not to be the final thrower after the re-ordering, and she quickly set things right with a 19.52m to take the lead. But even after extending that lead with a fifth-round 19.68m, you could tell she was not herself. After each attempt, she looked for advice from a gentleman watching from across the track. Val is coached by two very large Swiss fellows–Werner Gunthor and Jean-Piere Egger–and this man was neither Swiss nor large, so I’m not sure who he was but the advice he shouted to her (“Put your whole body behind it! Get it going on this one!”) was heartfelt and kind of sweet. The sort of advice one might expect to hear shouted by a parent at a middle-school track meet.
After the competition, I had a nice chat with Val that you can view here:
As always, she was humble and upbeat, and afterwards she strode off looking like a champion prize-fighter from back in the day, a bit weary but ready to move on to the next town and flatten the next challenger.
Forgive me for one minute, but I feel the need to switch to Negative Nancy mode. As I was writing this article and reflecting back on what, by any measurement (5 meet records, 5 world-leading performances) was a fantastic track meet I realized that there was one aspect of it that bothered me.
On this sun-kissed day at Icahn Stadium, the shot put ran concurrently with (and right next to) that magnificent high jump competition. As the bar was raised closer and closer to a world-record height, the attention of the crowd became completely focused on that event. By the time Bondarenko and Barshim started taking attempts at 2.46m (the world record is 2.45) I’m pretty sure that myself, my friend Peter, and the guy shouting encouragement to Val were the only people in the stadium paying attention to the shot put.
But that’s as it should be. Witnessing a world record is a big, honking deal.
What bothers me is that Valerie Adams, arguably the best ever at her event, will never be involved in a competition like that. The world record in the women’s shot (Natalia Lisovskaya, 22.63m, set in 1987)is so far out there (Val’s PB is 21.24m) and so obviously the result of PEDs that nobody in this age of random drug testing is ever going to beat it.
And that sucks, for Val because it unfairly diminishes her accomplishments, and for shot put fans because it deprives us of the chance to experience a moment in the shot equal to the moment when Bondarenko or Barshim began their approach to the bar and an entire stadium held its collective breath.
Okay. Just had to get that off my chest.
After the meet, my very patient wife, my friend Peter, and I had a fantastic dinner at an Italian place in midtown and then stopped by the athletes’ hotel to have a drink in the lounge overlooking the lobby. Several beers later, we spotted Val and a couple of friends just back from dinner themselves. I grabbed Peter and dragged him down to meet her, my wife trailing us with her cellphone at the ready. I’m not sure exactly what we said to her, nor can I guarantee that anything we said made much sense, but she listened to us patiently and agreed to pose for a picture.
That’s no basketball player, folks. That’s the best shot putter ever.
Do you ever fantasize about things you’d like to have a reason to say at some point in your life?
I’m a fifty-year-old guy, so tops on my list are statements like…
“For god’s sake, I wish Angelina Jolie would stop sexting me!”
“Good news, honey! The doctor says I actually need to gain weight!”
I’m also a throws fan who loves the discus and in particular the way the Germans throw the discus so also high on my list would be something along the lines of…
“I’m going to watch discus film with Robert Harting.”
And last Saturday, I actually got to say that. Here’s how it happened:
Anyone who knows me knows that the one really, really smart thing I’ve done in my life was to marry the Most Patient Woman in the World. This woman knows how much I love the throws, so last weekend she accompanied me on a trip to cover the Adidas Grand Prix Diamond League Meeting in New York. Due to the demands of television, the men’s discus competition (featuring most of the guys who made the final in last year’s World Championships) was the first event of the day, and I had a primo view of the competition.
Standing next to me throughout was a woman named Vera, the manager of the German throwing contingent competing that day. It was fun watching the meet with her as she fretted over the wind (it seemed to constantly change directions), beamed when her throwers performed well (Harting and javelin thrower Linda Stahl both set meet records), suffered when they did not (Martin Wierig did not advance past the first three throws), and made the occasional tart comment (when I noted the hugeness of one of the competitors she replied, “And yet, his head is so small”).
A bonus of watching the competition alongside Vera was that as the discus ended and the women’s javelin began, Martin Wierig came over and sat by her. I knew he was bummed about his performance, but a friend of mine is a big fan of Martin’s so I just had to get a picture. I asked as nicely as one should when approaching a 6’6″ man in a lousy mood, and he graciously complied.
The dude visible over Martin’s left shoulder is the Australian thrower Benn Harradine, on his way over to watch teammate Kathyrn Mitchell compete in the jav.
Harradine, it turns out, is a really nice guy and a lot of fun to talk to. You can find part of our conversation here:
While Harradine and I were chatting, along came Robert Harting. The next thing I know, the three of us are standing along a fence watching the jav and shooting the breeze.
Harting, though more reserved than Harradine, is also a nice guy and a lot more thoughtful than one might think if one’s only impression of him was formed while watching video of him tear his shirt off after winning the World Championships and Olympics.
Here are vids of two conversations I had with him:
He actually did remove his shirt while watching the jav, as did Harradine and Ehsan Hadadi who came over as well. But there was nothing celebratory in the gesture. All three were simply trying to stay cool. I was tempted to join them in going shirtless but didn’t want to intimidate anyone.
Anyway, at one point Harting began telling Harradine that in spite of throwing 68 meters, he felt like his technique was off. “I need to get pictures from the side,” he said.
Remarkably, my friend Peter Trofimuk was also attending the meet and had filmed the discus competition from the grandstand located across the track from the side of the cage. Just the view that Harting wanted to see. I immediately walked over to the grandstand and reached up to Peter. In response to his quizzical look, I uttered those immortal words. “I am going to watch video with Robert Harting.”
I felt terrible that Peter, as big a throws fanatic as I am, had to sit in the stands and watch me watch video with Harting, but I got over it pretty quickly. Here is Peter, expressing his frustration at dinner later that evening:
Unfortunately, the viewer on the video camera was small and the midday sun was large, so Harting could not see his throws very well. After a minute, he handed the camera back to me and asked if I could post them on youtube and send him the link.
I agreed, and did my best to hide my disappointment. I have watched video of Harting’s throws approximately twelve million times, but to do it with him standing there providing commentary? Holy guacamole.
It was still a great day at a great track meet. More on that later.