The Drake Relays are wrapped-up and we’ve seen some very good shot put results. Reese Hoffa won the competition with a 21.71m (71′ 2″) bomb for a massive world leading throw.
Des Moines, Iowa – The mighty Drake Relays, home of the turkey leg snack, once again gave us a great shot put competition and awarded the top three not with metal but pulled pork sandwiches. Truth be told the Iowans also turned-up the heat in the 7′ circle by offering a nice purse to the day’s best putters–$12,000 for 1st, $8,000 for 2nd and a tidy $5,000 for 3rd. Kings of the ring Reese Hoffa and Ryan Whiting put their own spin on how they feel about the Drake Relays. The Olympic bronze medalist shared, “I think it’s because I’ve competed here before as a collegiate when I was at Georgia and competed here all four years. I think people remember me, if not for my incredible throwing, but because I like to put on a show. I think it’s comfortable in a way, and I seem to throw really well here and have a lot of fun. The fans are receptive to my presence. It’s awesome.” With the 2012 Indoor World Champion chiming in, “It is a great meet to start off the year with, with some great competition. I was the defending champion from 2012, so I really enjoy coming back for this event. It’s a good warm up for the rest of the year.” As far as knocking heads with the Georgia native, “It’s good for both of us; it keeps us sharp and on our toes. We go back and forth at most meets, hopefully it will come back to my side next time.”
Master rotator Hoffa won the competition with a solid 21.71m (71′ 2″). Fellow American spinner Ryan Whiting was the bridesmaid with a useful 21.37m (70′ 1″); while Canadian Olympian Justin Rodhe placed 3rd and secured his sandwich with his 2nd PB of 2013 when he sprayed some stone dust onto the 70′ arc chalk line with a 21.29m (69′ 10″).
Hoffa showed his high level of fitness during the competition by launching all his legal throws over 21m. His 1st round 21.12m (69′ 3″) was good for 2nd behind Whiting’s 21.31m (69′ 10″). Hoffa, not know for sharing gold, took the lead for good with a 2nd round 21.71m (71′ 2″). He finished up his series with a foul, 21.30m (69′ 10″), foul and 21.57m (70′ 9”). “This year I’ve struggled to find my throw, and to finally get it now is pretty nice. I would say I’ve found my “up” if you will, because otherwise I’ve been pretty flat.” reflected Hoffa. “Starting in the fall, we tried to do things that we were doing last year, and it throws us off a little, because we need to go back to the basics of what we would normally be doing. I think also not having an indoor season really affects it. I’ve done one event in [Nordhausen] Germany this year, where I finished second to Ryan [Whiting]. It throws me off a little because I’ve done every indoor season since I’ve been a professional, so to take a year off was a learning experience. I think it put me back a little, but I’m happy I’m finding it now.”
While Whiting could not respond to Hoffa he was able to hold off Dr. Bondarchuk’s apprentice by following three scratches with a 21.23m (69′ 7″) and his meet best of 21.37m (70′ 1″). After opening his day with a shaky 19.90m (65′ 3″) and foul Rodhe, using his typical steely focus, knocked out useful 20.65m (67′ 8″) and 20.63m (67′ 8″) puts before showing another hint of his Moscow medal chances with a PB 21.29m (69′ 10″).
Cory Martin could not match the top-3’s 21m (68′ 10″) throws but secured a distant, and certainly uncharacteristic, 4th with his 20.24m (66′ 4″). He told Throwholics, “I am definitely disappointed with the performance. I had some far throws, but was unable turn completely through at the front and stay in. It’s unacceptable by my standards.”
Martin was followed by Kurt Roberts’ 19.90m (65′ 3″), Zach Lloyd’s 19.49m (63′ 11″) and Nedzad Mulabegovic’s 19.18m (62′ 11″). Roberts, of internet meme fame, had another runin with oddness when, during his wind-up, a photographer ran from the oval, between throws officials and right out into the sector. The officials had to stop Roberts mid-wind-up. It is not know if this photographer lived to see the end of the meet.
Olympian Christian Cantwell was also on the start list but, like at the Kansas Relays, is off-form while recovering from surgery and fouled his pair of attempts.
Looking forward, Hoffa has a clear vision for 2013. “I gave myself a goal, I want to defend my Diamond League championship, and also work to be the World Champion. I came into the year with a goal and a purpose, and I realized that they are very difficult, but I know if you don’t give yourself some lofty goals, it’s like ‘why I am doing this?’ and it keeps me accountable. I could slop through two seasons, and then get it together again come Olympics, but I just don’t think that is fair for the fans who come to see me throw, both at Drake and around the world.” The Pennsylvania native spelled out his simple and clear goals, “My only goal right now is to make the U.S. team and since the competition will be here in Des Moines again it’s a nice advantage to have that I’ve already been here several times before.”
Blood on the Board
After the event one putter, reflecting on the tone of the 2012 and 2013 seasons, said, “There are not many events as consistently cut throat as the shot.”, and these Drake Relays certainly boar that out. I think we all need to remember that every weekend these men and women are leaving their blood on the toeboard trying to eek out a living in pursuit of gold, silver and bronze.
The results: HERE