Towering hammer thrower Ethan Katzberg took advice from coach Dylan Armstrong on Thursday in the throws area across from Hillside Stadium, absorbing tidbits before engaging tilt-a-whirl routine.
From the twister vortex, perhaps propelled by viking-hair static, emerged the implement, soaring before boring into exploding turf.
“It’s incredible, the distance he’s throwing,” said Armstrong, head coach of the Kamloops Track and Field Club. “Paris is in 2024. It comes fast.”
Katzberg, who turned 20 in April, moved to Kamloops from Nanaimo two years ago to train with Armstrong, who identified the up-and-coming talent at high school and club meets across the province.
“It’s paid off,” Katzberg said. “It’s been a great decision. I’ve got some of the best coaching in Canada.”
The 6-foot-6, 235-pound throws machine was heaving the senior men’s implement about 55 metres upon arrival in the Tournament Capital.
Katzberg won gold and set a meet record last month at the Oregon Relays in Eugene, Oregon, his personal-best throw of 74.16 metres dismantling the competition. Second-place finisher Mason Strunk of Oregon posted a mark of 63.14m.
“It is a big, big throw,” said Armstrong, the two-time Olympian who won bronze in shot put at the 2008 Games in Beijing. “I believe it’s the best throw in North American history for a kid 20 years old. It’s very far. In this sport, you get better as you age, at least up until 30 or 31.”
Katzberg, who said his ultimate goal is to reach the podium at the Olympics, is eating, sleeping and training his sport these days, unemployed and taking a break from studies.
“Ethan’s got the work ethic and the potential behind him and we have tremendous support here with the city, lots of services we can use and everything we need to be successful,” Armstrong said.
“His great combo is he’s tall and he’s fast. You don’t see a lot of that.”
Katzberg and Armstrong trained in Portugal for more than two months this past winter, taking advantage of warm weather to put in crucial work ahead of the season.
“I spend a lot of time with him, so you’ve got to enjoy each other’s company,” Katzberg said.
The Vancouver Island transplant is approaching standards that would make him eligible to compete in the Commonwealth Games (75.10m), world championships (77.50m) and Olympic Games (77.50m).
“Our focus this year was to throw as far as possible and try to get nationally carded, so he’s set up for next year,” Armstrong said. “Ethan has gone far and beyond my expectations. We’re just out here having fun now.”
Competitions in June, including the Vancouver Sun Harry Jerome International Track Classic in Burnaby, Victoria Track Classic and Kamloops Throws Festival, give Katzberg opportunity to improve on his PB and chase international meet standards.
For those interested in catching a glimpse of Katzberg in Kamloops, the event is slated for June 5.
He has no plans to trim the long locks, so just look for the hair-filled hurricane in the throws pit.
“I mean, I’ve got to represent the Island somehow, right,” Katzberg said with a laugh.