Rodhe cleared to compete for Canada

MARK HUNTER / Kamloops Daily News
May 4, 2012 01:00 AM

Shot put is very much an individual sport, but a team effort may have cleared the way for Kamloops' Justin Rodhe to compete at the 2012 London Olympics.

Rodhe, 27, has been cleared by the IAAF, the world's governing body for athletics, to compete for Canada at international events. The IAAF had ruled in March that Rodhe, a native of Bainbridge, Ohio, was ineligible to compete for Canada at the world indoor championships in Istanbul, Turkey.

"This is an affirmation for all the hard work I have put in, along with a lot of other people," Rodhe said.

Those other people created a "pretty good team effort," according to Rodhe, who thanked all of Athletics Canada's staff, including CEO Rob Guy, head coach Alex Gardiner and director of national team programs Scott MacDonald.

The IAAF created a rule in the fall stating that "an athlete who has never competed in an International Competition shall be eligible to represent a Member in an International Competition if he: (a) is a Citizen of the Country and has been a Citizen for the two-year period immediately preceding the International Competition in question; or (b) is a Citizen of the Territory and has completed two continuous years of Residence in the Territory immediately preceding the International Competition in question."

According to Guy, the rule was put in place to keep countries from "buying" athletes to compete for them at the Olympics.

"The way (the rule) was laid out," Guy said, "Justin's application was denied.

"We had a meeting with the IAAF and re-looked at the rule and the spirit in which it was created," Guy continued. "The rule changed so a person that was living in the country for more than a year prior (to a competition) can compete."

Rodhe has lived in Kamloops, where he moved to train at the National Throws Centre under head coach Anatoliy Bondarchuk, for more than four years. In September 2009, Rodhe married hammer-thrower Megann Rodhe, a native of Oakville, Ont.

He became a Canadian citizen on Nov. 1 - he thanked MP Cathy McLeod for her help - which normally would have made the deadline for athletes hoping to compete in the Olympics.

But then came the IAAF's ruling in March, only a month after Rodhe had thrown a personal-best 20.95 metres at a meet in Arkansas.

Rodhe said he was "not really" worried about the ruling or Athletics Canada's appeal.

"I just tried to focus on training and preparation," Rodhe said. "You can't allow yourself to worry . . . you just have to throw your fate to the wolves sometimes."

Despite the initial negative news, Rodhe has enjoyed an excellent season since, competing at meets in Vancouver, Kansas, California and Iowa.

It was at the Kansas Relays in mid-April where Rodhe hit another personal-best, throwing 21.11m to finish third behind Reese Hoffa and Christian Cantwell, both Americans.

That 21-metre mark is a big deal - it's the standard for qualifying for the Olympics.

"I've hit the A-plus standard," Rodhe explained. "I think all I need to do is finish top-three" at the Canadian championships in Calgary from June 27-30 to qualify for London.

But there's still a lot of work to be done.

Rodhe is planning to compete on a European circuit in May, before taking part in a Canadian loop in June. After the Canadian championships, he'll be back in Kamloops, "training for the (Olympics), hopefully."

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