Elite Men's Shot Put Field Set for Kansas Relays' Downtown Events
March 30, 2011
LAWRENCE, Kan. –
Some of the world’s best throwers will be showcasing their skills in a big way at the 2011 Kansas Relays, as nine of the world’s top 30 shot putters are set to compete in the men’s invitational shot put event.
The primetime event is scheduled for 6 p.m., Wednesday, April 20, and will not only kick off the 2011 Kansas Relays, but a trio of downtown events as well. With the shot put one of three events slated to take place in downtown Lawrence, the elite field will highlight the non-traditional locale. Fitting in with the non-traditional theme is a field of competitors as unique as the location they will be competing in. Here’s a brief look at this year’s throwers:
World Ranking: No. 1
Hometown/College: Jefferson City, Mo./Missouri ’03
- 2008 Olympic Silver Medalist
- Reigning U.S. Outdoor Champion
- Three-time World Indoor Champion (2004, 2008, 2010)
- Four-time U.S. Indoor Champion (2004, 2007, 2008, 2010)
About Cantwell: Cantwell is arguably one of the Kansas Relays’ most recognizable athletes. The Missouri alum is a regular at the Kansas Relays and has claimed three invitational shot put titles. Cantwell won his first Kansas Relays title in 2002 while competing for Missouri. After a runner-up finish in 2005, he went on to claim his second and third titles while competing professionally for Nike in 2006 and 2008. With the invitational shot put not contested from 2009-10, Cantwell will return this year as the back-to-back defending champion.
World Ranking: No. 2
Hometown/College: Evans, Ga./Georgia ’01
- 2008 Olympian
- 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials Champion
- Won back-to-back World Outdoor Championships (2006-07) and U.S. Outdoor Championships (2007-2008)
- 2006 World Indoor Champion
- Six U.S. Championships runner-up finishes (three indoor and outdoor)
About Hoffa: While Hoffa has been a longtime power in the sport, his quirky personality and touching family story have brought the former Georgia Bulldog notoriety. After winning the Drake Relays shot put title as a college junior in 2000, Hoffa did a victory lap around the stadium while eating a turkey leg, which started his post-victory “Turkey Trot” tradition. An avid professional wrestling fan, Hoffa paid tribute to his favorite sport at the 2004 Home Depot Invitational by donning a mask and cape while competing and dubbing himself, “Unknown Shot Putter”. The getup worked for Hoffa, as he recorded a personal-best throw, and declared it a personal goal of his to compete wearing a full bear suit and be brought out to the field in a cage. Away from the competitive arena, Hoffa is a speed cuber who can solve a Rubik’s Cube puzzle in 30 seconds. The veteran thrower has been outspoken about his adoption at the age of four. Hoffa’s mother was just 13 years old when she gave birth to her first child and only 15 when Hoffa was born. Four years later, the family’s Louisville, Ky., house burned down, and Hoffa and his brother were taken to an orphanage. The two brothers were then separated when Hoffa was adopted into another family. As a child, Hoffa, who was born Maurice Antawn Chism, changed his name in order to embrace his new life. However, Hoffa never stopped wondering about his old life and embarked on a years-long search to find his birth mother, all the while not knowing that she was searching for him at the same time. The two finally reconnected after finding one another on the internet in 2000, and have remained a part of each other’s lives.
World Ranking: No. 3
Hometown/College: Bloomington, Ind./Auburn ’08
- 2008 NCAA Shot Put and Hammer Throw Champion
- 2008 USATFCC Male Field Athlete of the Year
- Three-time SEC Champion (shot put in 2007, hammer throw in 2007 and 2005)
- 2004 Junior National Shot Put Champion
About Martin: Martin recently moved into the world rankings for the first time in his career after a huge performance at the 2010 Tucson Elite Throwers Classic. Coming into the event, Martin owned a personal best of 68-03.75, but immediately shattered the mark with just his second throw, and again with his third throw. Martin’s third-round mark of 72.06.25 surpassed his previous mark by nearly three feet, and was the third-highest mark of the year. Now more than two years removed from his stellar college career, Martin has established himself as a top up-and-coming thrower. Martin’s sister, Stacy Martin-Tenney, was also an All-American thrower at Auburn. An avid golfer, Martin someday hopes to compete in the Long Drive World Championships.
World Ranking: No. 5
Hometown/College: Harrisburg, Pa./Arizona State ’10
- Back-to-back NCAA Shot Put Championships (2009-10)
- Became the 10th person to win both the NCAA shot put and discus titles in the same year (2010).
- Six-time NCAA Champion (three outdoor titles, three indoor titles)
About Whiting: Throughout his standout college career as a Sun Devil, Whiting repeatedly stated his goal of breaking the college shot put record set by former UCLA thrower John Godina in 1995.In last year’s NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Ore., Whiting came just 1.25 inches short of reaching his goal when he recorded a toss of 72-1. However, the throw won him his second NCAA shot put title and a world ranking of No. 5. Whiting finished ahead of Kansas’ Mason Finley in both the shot put and the discus at the NCAA Championships.
World Ranking: No. 7
Hometown: Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada
- Five-time Canadian National Champion
- 2008 Olympian
- Set Canadian shot put record during 2008 Olympics
- 2010 Commonwealth Games Champion
About Armstrong: One of just two international throwers slated to compete in the 2010 Kansas Relays, Armstrong been a long dominated the shot put in Canada. In the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Armstrong set a new Canadian record with his throw of 69-0.25, but missed out winning a bronze medal by just a centimeter. Armstrong was victorious in the shot put at the 2010 Commonwealth games, becoming the first Canadian to win the event in 28 years.
World Ranking: No. 10
Hometown/College: Atlanta/Dartmouth ’97
- 2000 and 2004 Olympic Silver Medalist, 2008 Olympian
- 2000 and 2004 U.S. Olympic Trials Champion
- 2005 World Outdoor Champion
- Six U.S. Championships (four outdoor, two indoor)
- 1997 NCAA Champion
- Five-time member of the U.S. National Team
About Nelson: Nelson is the veteran of the 2011 Kansas Relays shot put field, and the only competitor to have competed the past three Olympic Games. Nelson has yet to slow down in and out of track and field. Ten years after winning the 1997 NCAA title, Nelson took on a heavy work load. In his first year as an MBA student at Virginia, Nelson also served as a volunteer assistant throws coach, worked as a part-time reporter for three Charlottesville, Va., television stations and also reached a No. 2 world ranking and took home silver at the 2007 World Outdoor Championships. He topped himself the following year, when he recorded the top throw of 2008 (72-7) at Nike’s Prefontaine Classic. A two-sport collegiate athlete, Nelson comes from an extremely athletic family. Nelson’s brother plays rugby, his sister is a former Dartmouth soccer star and his father played football at Mississippi. As a football player at Dartmouth, Nelson played inside linebacker before later being moved to defensive tackle. Nelson veered from his athletic roots while living and training in New York City. After years of runner-up finishes, Nelson looked as though he was about to break through for a win on the world’s biggest stage at the 2004 Olympics. Nelson’s winning throw in the U.S. Olympic trials measured as the ninth-best in history. It was the longest throw recorded in 10 years and boosted him to the top of the world rankings going into the Olympic Games in Athens, Greece. Nelson’s first throw in Athens put him in first place, which was a mark that would hold up until the end of the event. It looked as though Nelson had won gold after his final throw, but it was declared foul and he finished with silver. Nelson’s first big win came in the following year, when after years of runner-up finishes he captured the world outdoor championship in Helsinki, Finland.
World Ranking: No. 14
Hometown/College: Cleveland, Ohio/Ohio State ’04
- 2009 U.S. Indoor Champion
- Only person to ever win the NCAA Indoor Shot Put and Weight Throw titles in the same year (2004)
- Ranked as high as No. 6 in the world (2007)
- Two-time U.S. Outdoor Championships runner-up
About Taylor: Another top young thrower, Taylor often finds himself in contention for titles with world powerhouse throwers Christian Cantwell and Reece Hoffa. Taylor wrapped up a decorated college career in 2004. While at Ohio State, Taylor set numerous school and Big Ten Conference records. He was the only collegiate member of the 2003 U.S. Pan American Games team and won the shot put in back-to-back years at the Penn Relays to twice be named the event’s Most Outstanding Male Performer. Taylor is currently coached by former U.S. standout thrower John Godina, who has held the college shot put record since 1995. Taylor comes from a family of former Buckeyes, and his uncle was a premier player in one of Ohio State’s most prominent traditions when he dotted the “I” on the First Script Ohio.
World Ranking: No. 16
Hometown/College: Santa Barbara, Calif./Southern California ’07
- 2007 Indoor and Outdoor NCAA Champion
- Fouth-place finish at 2007 U.S. Outdoor Championships
- Sixth-place finish at 2009 U.S. Outdoor Championship
- Member of 2007 U.S. Team that competed in the IAAF World Championships
About Bryant: A standout performer at USC, Bryant almost saw his career and his life cut short after a freak hammer throw accident in 2005. While warming up during the second meet of the ’05 season, Bryant released the hammer early, causing it to ricochet off a nearby chainlink fence and hit him directly underneath his right eye, shattering his orbital bone into 14 pieces. After undergoing surgery, the doctors informed Bryant that he had been just “millimeters from death”. The following year, Bryant won the shot put at the Pac 10 Championships, finished second at the NCAA West Regional and seventh at the NCAA Outdoor Championships, improving his throws in each event. In 2007, Bryant completed his remarkable comeback with two NCAA titles, a fourth-place finish at the U.S. Outdoor Championships and a spot on the U.S. National Team. Bryant is a second-generation thrower, as his father was an NAIA All-American.
World Ranking: No. 22
Hometown/College: West Orange, N.J. (competes for Jamaica)/Florida State ’05
- 2008 Olympian
- Three-time Central America & Caribbean Champion
About Scott: Despite the domination of sprinters on the Jamaican track and field scene, Scott has managed to make a name as the top Caribbean thrower, and could potentially end up as the top Caribbean thrower in history. Scott has been outspoken about the lifestyle and financial challenges of trying to become a professional thrower and has praised the Jamaican Olympic Association for its loyalty to him. Earlier this year, Scott was honored by his home country, being honored with the RJR Sports Foundation Sportsman of the Year. Last year, Scott won the Central America & Caribbean Championships just a year removed from tearing his Achilles tendon. Scott currently resides in Tallahassee, Fla., and serves as an assistant throws coach at Florida State.