Olympians throwing their weight around

Saanich athlete gets a few pointers from hammer thrower bound for Rio

Two-time Canadian Olympic throwers Sultana Frizell

Two-time Canadian Olympic throwers Sultana Frizell

There might not be a crew as fun loving as the Lambrick Park Tossy Posse.

If you didn’t know the group of throwers, an unofficial mix of national athletes and local high schoolers, including Canada’s flagbearer at the closing ceremonies of the 2014 Commonwealth Games, you might not take them serious.

Until they step in the cage, it’s all jokes for Sultana Frizell, 31, and Heather Steacy, 28. But there’s no denying the resumés of the two-time Olympic hammer throwers. Frizell won gold at the 2014 Commonwealth Games and Steacy is the 2016 national champion headed to the Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympics which begin Friday.

“We like to keep a light atmosphere here,” said Steacy, who’s been here since the fall of 2015. “It’s sunny now, but we’re happy to be here even if it’s raining, anything’s better than being in the snow.”

The cage at Lambrick drew both Steacy and Frizell here from Kamloops, where they previously threw with Derek Evely and now work with Sheldon Gmitroski.

Having the leadership of Frizell and Steacy on a day-to-day basis is a win for the throwing group, said Gmitroski, who recently returned from coaching Canadian throwers at the world junior track and field championships in Poland.

“When you have two role models as strong as these two it’s a tremendous thing, the leadership helps the group and it’s been a great year for growth, the type that may never occur again,” Gmitroski said. “They also help keep this a safe place where you can make mistakes, and learn what works best. We want to be analytical but not in a stereotypical [strict] coaching kind of way.”

Sam Willett, also a hammer thrower, recently won the junior nationals by six metres.

For Willett, the group dynamic is part of an ideal setup. The 18-year-old Mount Douglas grad continues to study at the University of Victoria though he’s scholarship material for the NCAA, if he wanted to go, Gmitroski said.

Because of his success and good nature, Willett has become the favourite target for Frizell’s and Steacy’s tough love. Time passes slow between chirps from his newly adopted “big sisters.”

“It’s an amazing influence having them around. They throw huge distances and it’s inspiring for me, plus they are so strong technically, and it’s a good thing to be relaxed,” Willett said.

For her part, Frizell has reason to keep her head up. She should be on a plane with Steacy heading to her third Olympic Games, but an April foot injury cancelled that plan. It kept her from throwing for seven weeks, and though she’s healthy now and throwing close to her best, she was unable to attain the ‘proof of fitness’ she needed in time for Canadian Olympic Committee qualification.

“You have to look forward and I’ll keep competing in meets this season and begin the preparation for world championships next year,” Frizell said.

When Frizell competed at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing there was no throwing cage at Lambrick Park. It arrived a little before she and Steacy attended the London Olympics in 2012, built by community support by the families of former Lambrick throwers.

“It’s the field of hammer dreams,” Frizell joked. “I take credit for that one, by the way. Heather can take credit for Tossy Posse.”

The cage has spurred many a Lambrick Park athlete to gold at the provincial high school level, including Adam Keenan, who is now competing for Northern Arizona University, and Willett, who plans to one day duke it out with Keenan for the Canadian title.

The future is good for the group, as the Olympic duo have no plans to leave.

“I’m staying forever, I’m converted,” Steacy said.

 

Just Posted

Proposed design for the Topaz Park bike and skate park elements. (Courtesy City of Victoria)
Victoria requesting feedback on Topaz Park redesign

Public input now being taken for proposed skate, bike park ideas

Law Enforcement Torch Run in support of Special Olympics B.C. kicks off with a run at Swan Lake on June 6. The virtual fundraiser runs until June 20. (Saanich Police/Twitter)
Torch run seeks to scorch previous fundraiser, targets $75,000 for Special Olympics

Global movement shoots for 40,000 km in honour of the 40th anniversary

Improving safety at Keating Cross Road and the Pat Bay Highway is the goal of the flyover project currently in the works. The province aims to reveal the final cost and design this fall. (Screencap/Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure)
Final budget, design of Keating flyover in Central Saanich still in the works

Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure says information coming by this fall

Colin Davidson won $100K on a Set for Life scratch ticket in Sooke. (BCLC photo)
Sooke man does ‘happy dance’ after scratching a $100,000 Set for Life win

Colin Davidson plans to renovate his home and invest in his daughter’s education

West Shore RCMP K9 Halla. (Black Press Media file photo)
Sound of RCMP dog enough to stop suspects in Oak Bay

West Shore RCMP K9 unit called in, didn’t get to chase

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

Cowichan Tribes man Adrian Sylvester is worried that he was targetted by a trailer hitch thrown from a vehicle. (Facebook photo)
Cowichan Tribes man worried he was target of trailer hitch

Adrian Sylvester says no one has reported a missing hitch after one nearly hit him

Graeme Roberts, who was mayor of Nanaimo from 1984-86, died this month at age 89. (Photo courtesy Nanaimo Community Archives)
City of Nanaimo flags at half-mast as former mayor Graeme Roberts dies at 89

‘Giant-killer’ beat out Frank Ney in mayoral election in 1984

CVSAR search the Puntledge River following a report of an abandoned kayak. Photo, CVSAR Facebook page
Comox Valley Search and Rescue spends four hours searching for no one

Overturned kayak a reminder for public to contact officials if they have to abandon a watercraft

A worker, at left, tends to a customer at a cosmetics shop amid the COVID-19 pandemic Thursday, May 20, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Half of cosmetics sold in Canada, U.S. contain toxic chemicals: study

Researchers tested more than 230 commonly used cosmetics and found that 56% of foundations and eye products, 48% of lip products and 47% of mascaras contained high levels of fluorine

White Rock’s Marine Drive has been converted to one-way traffic to allow more patio space for waterfront restaurants. (Peace Arch News)
Province promotes permanent pub patios in B.C. post-pandemic plan

More than 2,000 temporary expansions from COVID-19 rules

Lake City Secondary School Williams Lake campus students Ethan Reid, from left, Brenden Higgins, Ty Oviatt, Kaleb Alphonse, Nathan Kendrick and Landon Brink with RCMP officers Const. Nicoll and Const. Stancec. (Photo submitted)
RCMP thank 6 teens for helping prevent forest fire in Williams Lake

The students came across fire in a wooded area and used the water they had to try and extinguish the flames

Nanaimo Aboriginal Centre has embarked on a fundraising campaign, seeking to raise $1 million for establishment of an independent urban Indigenous school. Pictured here, Tsawalk Learning Centre students at an Orange Shirt Day event in September. (Submitted photo)
Nanaimo Aboriginal Centre looks to raise $1 million for urban Indigenous school

Centre says independent school would be first of its kind in B.C.

There is an emergency shelter near the Golden Ears peaks. (Facebook/Special to The News)
Hiker fogged in on Golden Ears, spends 2 nights

Talon Helicopters, Ridge Meadows Search and Rescue bring him home Monday

Most Read