Tim Nedow has come this far in his shot put career on talent and size alone.
Now he's hoping Anatoliy Bondarchuk will help him get to the Olympics.
Nedow, 22, is one of the newest members of the National Throws Centre, whose home is in Kamloops and whose leader is Bondarchuk, a world-renowned coach best known as Dr. B.
Bondarchuk has helped numerous athletes qualify for the Olympics, including Kamloops-based shot putters Dylan Armstrong and Justin Rodhe.
But none of the NTC's current throwers has the body of Nedow, who stands 6-foot-7 and weighs 275 pounds. In that alone, Nedow has a major advantage.
He knows he needs more if he wants to be among the world's best, like Armstrong and Rodhe. That's why Nedow came to town, instead of heading home to Brockville, Ont., or looking for work near his alma mater, DePaul University in Chicago. He wants to be the best and, at this point, looks like Canada's next great shot putter.
"It was pretty much like I just gave up everything," Nedow says. "I came out here, didn't really know anyone . . . but I think it's the best situation. I would rather be out here training, trying to make the dream, than going somewhere to work."
Nedow comes to Kamloops after a successful university career at Tulsa and DePaul, where he spent the past three years. And he comes in with some big numbers already to his credit.
Last season, he threw 20.51 metres indoors and 20.21m outdoors. The Olympic A standard is 20.50m, meaning Nedow, at 21, almost joined Armstrong and Rodhe in London. Armstrong is 31, Rodhe 28.
"Look at all the people when they came in - Dylan was 18 metres, I think, in 2006," Nedow says. "It took him a few years to get to 21. Justin was 16 or 17 metres, then he throws 21 a few years later. I look at that . . . I'm up at 19-20 right now, so hopefully it takes a little less time. I think next year, I'll be at 21."
If he does make it there - and it seems realistic, if not expected - it will put him among the world's best. It also will qualify Nedow for the world championships in Moscow from Aug. 10-18, his main goal for the season.
It's actually the only major competition for which he is aiming - while most athletes would pick the 2016 Rio Olympics, Nedow isn't prepared to look that far ahead.
"Right now, I'm just trying to see if I'm world class," he says. "I want to get into Diamond League meets, and I want to try to make the world team - if I don't do that, then I might give it one more year, and if I'm still not making it then 2016 might be out.
"I don't know . . . but if I don't get to 21 metres or 21.5, I'll reconsider the situation. But so far, everything is on track."
If Bondarchuk's history is any indicator, Nedow won't be leaving any time soon.
The 72-year-old former hammer throw gold-medallist is considered the best throws coach in the world, and is a big reason people like Armstrong, Rodhe and Kamloops-based hammer throwers KibwÉ Johnson and Sultana Frizell competed in London.
And Bondarchuk is nothing if not a perfectionist; he likes things done his way, and he'll make sure it gets done through practice and instruction.
As strong a thrower as Nedow was when he came to Kamloops, there were still some flaws.
"I was standing up tall when I used to throw," Nedow says. "I got away with it because I'm a tall guy. But I'd get to the middle and I'd jump - I'd look like I was doing a basketball jump shot. Now (Bondarchuk's) trying to get me to stay on the ground."
And if Nedow ever gets confused, he can look to one of his training partners - Armstrong or Rodhe.
"We don't necessarily push each other, but they get me going," Nedow says. "They want me to throw far, and that's what I like about those guys. There's no competition between us."
Even with the friendly training atmosphere, Nedow is looking at where his Olympian friends are, and how far he has to go.
"Obviously Dylan and Justin are a little ahead of me right now, but it's nice having someone to catch," Nedow says. "Usually, and this might come across as cocky, but I usually don't have someone I have to catch. This is the first time I've been in a training group and I've had to catch someone."
Yes, everything is rosy for Nedow who, if he continues to progress, will have an excellent career in shot put.
But even if things don't work out in the circle, he has a cool education on which to fall back - he recently completed a Bachelor of Science in computer game development.
A self-professed "gamer," Nedow loved what he was doing at DePaul. But he didn't have much trouble deciding to take his life in a different direction.
"It made me realize how much goes into one of those (video) games," he says. "All the departments - art, music, programming, storylines. It's really cool . . . and you get a whole new respect for how much time it takes to create a game like that.
"But right now, I just want to throw."
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