Downtown Shot Put Adds Three More of World's Best to Elite List
March 26, 2012
LAWRENCE, Kan. - The world's top-ranked shot putter, Ryan Whiting, and a pair of world-class throwers, Adam Nelson and Corey Martin, have signed on to compete in the Kansas Relays Elite Shot Put event to be held in downtown Lawrence on April 18.
Whiting finished the 2012 indoor season as the world's No. 1-ranked shot putter after he won the event at the World Indoor Championships in early March. The Arizona State grad kicked off a fantastic 2011 season with a fifth-place finish at the Kansas Relays downtown shot put a year ago. Whiting went on to place seventh at the World Championships in Deagu and finished the season at No. 7 in the world. Whiting is a six-time NCAA Champion in the event and will be one of the American favorites at the 2012 Olympics in London. At just 24 years old, he has put himself in the same discussion as the "Big Three" American throwers - Reese Hoffa, Christian Cantwell and Adam Nelson.
Nelson has been among the world's top-throwers for over a decade and he doesn't appear to be slowing down as he heads into his late 30s. The Atlanta native has twice ended a season as the world No. 1 and boasts a personal record that ranks 10th all-time in the event. He has earned two Olympic Silver medals and is a seven-time U.S. Champion, including winning the outdoor title in 2011. He finished third in the downtown competition last year before going on to claim his seventh-career U.S. title in July.
Martin joins Whiting as one of the more promising American up-and-comers in the sport. The Bloomington, Ind., native had a stellar career at Auburn from 2004-08, winning the 2008 NCAA Championships in both the shot put and hammer throw as well as three SEC conference titles. Since turning pro he has seen action in competitions all over the world and over the past two years has been among the top American throwers. Martin is a fan of the downtown event as last year's event in Lawrence ended up being his top performance of the outdoor season, a fourth-place finish with a throw of 67-11.75 ft.
The primetime event is scheduled for 6 p.m., Wednesday, April 18, and will kick off the 85th Kansas Relays, which will take place April 18-21 at Memorial Stadium. With the shot put one of two 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 an additional look at the throwers who have committed to this year's event:
World Ranking: No. 1
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 his final 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. After winning the 2012 world indoor championship he is the latest rising star in an event dominated for years in America by the "Big Three" - Reese Hoffa, Christian Cantwell and Adam Nelson. At just 24 years of age, Whiting recorded the furthest indoor throw in the world in 2011 and leads in the early months of 2012. Among other things, Whiting lists knitting, origami and exploring tunnels as some of his hobbies.
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 to this day.
About Nelson: Nelson is the veteran of the 2012 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 while taking 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 looked as though he was poised 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 2005, when after years of runner-up finishes he captured the world outdoor championship in Helsinki, Finland.
About Armstrong: Competing in his second-straight Kansas Relays, Armstrong has 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.
About Martin: Martin is a somewhat new addition to the world stage after moving into the international rankings for the first time in his career with a huge performance at the 2010 Tucson Elite Throwers Classic. Coming into the event, Martin owned a personal best of 68-03.75, but shattered the mark with just his second throw, and again with his third throw. Martin's third-round mark of 72-06.25 ft., surpassed his previous mark by nearly three feet, and was the third-best mark of the year. Now more than three 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.