Hours and hours of work and it comes down to a spin and a toss that take about 30 seconds.
Dordt’s David Davelaar has charted new territory in the weight throw for the Defenders and along with teammate Ike Van Kempen is headed to the NAIA National Championships in a week and a half.
A few weeks ago I asked David to write about the uniqueness of the weight throw and what it feels like to have your week of work come down to a few throws that take a couple minutes to perform. Factor in all the work you put in during the off-season and it’s even more incredible what is riding on those spins in the circle.
That’s the part of the essay that I find the most interesting.
For all of those who compete in relative obscurity….this one’s for you. I do notice and I appreciate the efforts you give and all that’s riding on those 30 seconds.
Weight throw is a unique event.
It is an event than many are unfamiliar with, and many of those that are familiar with it do not know what it really takes to be a weight thrower (other than size and strength). When I first began weight throwing, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into, especially after being shown a video of someone being dragged to the ground by a weight.
When I first began weight throwing, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into, especially after being shown a video of someone being dragged to the ground by a weight.
There are still days when I question what I got myself into, but it has all been worth it. Struggling through 6 am practices is just a small part of weight throw, but it sums up a lot of what weight throw is about. When going to morning practice, you’re obviously tired and not really sure how things are going to go. Putting turns together while tired is far more challenging than when fully awake, and you also get dizzy more quickly.
Many mornings it does not go the way you want, but the mornings when everything works together make those other mornings worth it. Being able to put all the small pieces together into a single throw is an incredible feeling. As it releases from your hand you just watch it sail through the air knowing that is how a throw should feel and hoping no one is in the path of where the weight will inevitably roll.
As it releases from your hand you just watch it sail through the air knowing that is how a throw should feel and hoping no one is in the path of where the weight will inevitably roll.
Meet days for throwers are interesting.
Throwers often begin and end meets, meaning we are the first ones there and the team waits for us at the end. A phrase I often think of when it comes to throwing events, including weight throw is “hurry up and wait”. We hurry to the meet in order to get there a little over an hour before our events start, so that we can get the throwing implements (weight, shot put, etc.) weighed in. After this, those that are in the first flight begin warming up 30-40 minutes before the event, so that they can be ready for warm up throws. As you improve, you get moved back into the better flights, so you must warm up during one of the other flights instead of before the event.
I normally begin warming up when the flight before mine gets to their second throws. Once warmed up, it’s go time. I get my throwing shoes on, grab a weight and head to check in, and once checked in I begin with warm-up throws. On average we are given 15 minutes for this, which is enough time for 3-4 warm-up throws. After warm-ups we are read the rules and throwing commences.
The adrenaline starts flowing and I begin picturing the throw in my mind, recalling from the warm-up throws what I need to do, and trying to not think about how all my preparation comes down to three preliminary throws, lasting around 30 seconds each. After my first throw, there are two reactions I have, depending upon how the throw went. If my throw was measured and felt good, I’m thinking about how to make a slight improvement to the next one. If the throw was poor or went out of the sector, I try to think about what major thing went wrong, and how to fix that. It isn’t a position I enjoy being in, as having to make major adjustments with adrenaline flowing isn’t easy. This continues through prelims, and if I make it to finals, I try to bump up the intensity a little.
In finals, I have nothing to lose so it is time to get my best throw in. This intensity must also be carefully controlled however, as too much easily sends me out of control and results in a poor throw.
In finals, I have nothing to lose so it is time to get my best throw in. This intensity must also be carefully controlled however, as too much easily sends me out of control and results in a poor throw. Once weight throw is completed, I head back to the team camp and put sweatpants and normal shoes back on before going to cheer for the next throwing event.
Mid-way through this season, at our second meet at SDSU, I was able to qualify for indoor nationals with my teammate Ike Van Kempen. During the earlier practices of the season, prior to Christmas break, Ike was throwing really well and I knew there was a good chance he would make it to nationals. Following Christmas break he continued throwing well and I knew it was only a matter of time. Throughout the weeks we would go back and forth between who was throwing farther in practice, pushing each other to improve. While having some friendly competition It’s also important to trust our training and not try to force the throws which is all too easy to do. In trusting the training, you are throwing in a way that the throw is technically correct but may be lacking in speed on some days due to the weight-lifting program, and by the end of the season you will have increased this speed and control allowing for further throws.
Anyway, back to the SDSU meet. Ike threw in the 2nd flight and I was in the final flight. My preliminary throws did not go well and I didn’t think I would make it to finals, but I got the final spot, with Ike just above me. On the first throw of finals I threw a nationals qualifying mark, which was a relief because of the pressure I had put on myself to hit that.
Prior to the throw I had taken a warm-up throw and it went exactly as it should. I asked the Lord that if he would, to give me the same calmness in my competition throw that I had in the warm-up throw, and I felt calmer on that throw. After I qualified I went over to Ike and checked out how he was feeling, and as usual he was nervous. After his first throw I went over to him and told him he was going to qualify for nationals. I didn’t know if it would be this meet, but I knew it would happen and two throws later it did.
I asked the Lord that if he would, to give me the same calmness in my competition throw that I had in the warm-up throw, and I felt calmer on that throw. After I qualified I went over to Ike and checked out how he was feeling, and as usual he was nervous. After his first throw I went over to him and told him he was going to qualify for nationals.
Qualifying for nationals is something both Ike and I have experienced before, but this is the first time we will be going to indoor nationals together. I am excited to have another thrower at indoor nationals. It’s a great feeling having someone there competing with you who is going through the same feelings you are, and being able to help/be helped by them.
A few years ago this was a crazy thought having multiple throwers at nationals, but I feel Coach Snyder’s work with the throwing progam since I arrived has allowed us to surpass expectations.