Two imports are adding to the Kamloops Track and Field Club’s stacked stable of throws athletes.
Ontario’s Ryan Jacklin and Ethan Katzberg from Nanaimo were recruited last year by Dylan Armstrong, the Olympic bronze medallist shot putter who coaches the KTFC throws group.
The 18-year-old hammer throwers have since established personal bests and set marks that leave them No. 1 and No. 2 in Canadian history among first-year junior (under-20) hammer throwers.
Jacklin’s top heave is 70.03 metres and Katzberg’s personal best is 66.66m, both moving the six-kilogram implement. Those numbers make them the first- and second-ranked Canadian junior hammer throwers in 2020.
Last year, Jacklin threw the five-kilogram hammer 69.74m for Saugeen Track and Field Club to set the U18 Canadian record and win gold at the Legion Youth National Track and Field Championships in Sydney, N.S.
“We connected there,” Armstrong said. “I talked to his parents and tried to make something happen.”
Armstrong was at the Legions, in part, to coach Kian Zabihi, the KTFC athlete who put the nation’s throws community on alert by smashing his own U16 record, launching the four-kilogram hammer 67.21m.
Zabihi, whose family moved to Kamloops from Vernon in 2018 so he can train with Armstrong, was 14 when he dismantled the U16 record in Nova Scotia. He finished 2019 with a personal best of 69.99m.
The trio of top up-and-coming prospects — Zabihi, Jacklin and Katzberg — belong to the KTFC throws team that includes Greg Stewart, the 7-foot-2, 350-pound shot putter who won silver last year at the World Para Athletics Championships in Dubai. He threw a personal-best 16.30m, a Canadian record.
“Right now, I’m right back into the swing of things, full-bore and really just giving ‘er,” said Stewart, who has been plagued by a back injury this year. “Dylan has me training a ton. I’ve got a lot of focus on getting healthy, training hard and getting stronger.”
Stewart is preparing, ultimately, for the Paralympic Summer Games (to be held in 2021, but carrying the 2020 title) next summer in Tokyo.
Zabihi, who has also fought injuries this year, is ramping up for another run at the Legion Nationals, which will be held next August in Sherbrooke, Que.
Jacklin and Katzberg have two major international events on their radar next year — the Pan American Under-20 Championships, slated to run from July 16 to July 18 in Santiago, Chile, and the World Junior Track and Field Championships, scheduled to take place from Aug. 17 to Aug. 22 in Nairobi.
“We’re keeping the group high quality and tight,” Armstrong said. “It’s going to take a lot of time and energy to get these guys ready. There is a lot going on next season. Hopefully, the virus settles down and we get a handle on it and things go well.”