The 2014 USATF championships are in the books, but with no World or Olympic titles to shoot for this year it seems like a proper moment to size up the state of the throwing events in this country and to speculate on what it will take to medal or at least make the finals next year in Beijing and the following year in Rio.
Here are some results from last year’s Worlds in Moscow:
8th Place: 77.57m Bronze: 79.36m Silver: 80.30m Gold: 81.97m
3rd: Chris Cralle 72.83m
2nd: AG Kruger 73.34m
1st: Kibwe Johnson 74.16m
Kibwe’s PB is 80.31m, but at 33 years of age his chances of making the finals in 2015 or 2016 appear slim. Same for Kruger, who is 35. Chris Cralle is young (26) but with a PR of 74.55m he is going to have to find a way to stay in the sport long enough to get to the point where he can throw 77m to 80m consistently.
Outlook: Not so good. It would be a huge step forward just to get someone in the final eight in Beijing or Rio.
8th: 80.03m Bronze: 86.23m Silver:87.07m Gold: 87.17m
3rd: Tim Glover 78.87m
2nd: Riley Dolezal 79.27m
1st: Sean Furey 81.10m
If 80m gets you into the final again in 2015, all three of these guys would obviously have a shot. A medal? Hmmmm. Glover is the youngest of the three at 24, and has the longest PR (84.01m) but he graduated college this spring and must find a stable training environment if he is to lead the US to international respectability.
Outlook: Forget about 2015 or 2016, but my 2020 vision says that if Glover can stay with it he might be the guy to break through.
8th: 63.38m Bronze: 65.19m Silver: 68.36m Gold: 69.11m
3rd: Mason Finley 61.04m
2nd: Bryan Powlen 61.05m
1st: Hayden Reed 62.19m
The good news? The 26-year-old Powlen is the old man of this crew. Finley has decided to give up shot putting to focus on the disc, and Reed is clearly a fearless young man. The bad news? There is a veteran group of discus throwers on the international scene all of whom have shown the ablility to throw 65+ in stadiums–68+ in the case of by Robert Harting, Piotr Malachowski, Gerd Kanter, and Ehsan Hadadi.
Outlook: As a Chicago White Sox fan, I love to make fun of the Cubs and their hundred-years-and-counting title drought. The suffering of their supporters has reached Biblical proportions, with no end in sight. Sadly, American discus fans are in the same boat.
The Shot Put
8th: 20.39m Bronze: 21.34m Silver: 21.57m Gold: 21.73m
3rd: Reese Hoffa 20.78m
2nd: Kurt Roberts 21.47m
1st: Joe Kovacs 22.03m
Consider the humble cactus. It flourishes in the type of dry, barren soil that kills off most other plants. Same for American shotputters. No one knows exactly what factors have conspired to keep the United States from regularly producing world class jav, hammer, and disc throwers, but whatever those factors may be (lack of governmental support, the predominance of football, an evil curse) they seem to have no affect whatsoever on our ability to crank out excellent shot putters.
Looking at the numbers those guys put up in Sacramento, would anyone guess that three men who have thrown over 21 meters this season were forced by injury to withdraw from the competition?
My teenaged daughter would call that “sick!”
Outlook: Hard to imagine an elephant fitting in a room full of American shot putters, but it’s not going away until one of them wins an Olympic gold medal. Will our phalanx of phenoms finally overwhelm those cursed European gliders? Majewski is getting long in the tooth and has been injured quite a bit lately, but Storl is still young and still…Storl. If nothing else, the shot final in Beijing and Rio should be riveting.