As a hammer thrower, Canadian Sultana Frizell doesn’t travel light. While she uses the hammer provided in competitions, she brings her practice gear on the road.
“I usually pack one of my suitcases with all my wires and balls and handles in there. And any kind of extra equipment that I need,” she explained. “I usually come in right under the 70 [pound airline limit] or right at the 70.”
The women hurl a four-kilogram metal ball (7.26 kilos for the men) attached to a grip by a steel wire no longer than 1.22 metres.
The 33-year-old from Perth, Ont., says customs officials are usually unfazed by her baggage — with the exception of Seoul. She has been pulled in for secondary screening twice in the South Korean capital.
Apparently each time they thought her hammer gear compete with was explosives-related.
“And I’m like ‘No, no, no, no.’ Thank God they had Wi-Fi in there because I’m trying to tell this person who doesn’t speak English — and I don’t speak Korean — that this is a hammer.”
YouTube videos of former Olympic champion hammer thrower Koji Murofushi of Japan saved the day both times.
Four years ago, Frizell had a different kind of luggage problem when the bag containing her clothes went missing for some six days en route to a training camp in Portugal prior to the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
This time, all was smooth getting to the Gold Coast.
Frizell, the two-time defending games champion, goes for her third straight gold on Tuesday in Carrara Stadium. Four years ago, she broke the games record three times en route to the top of the podium and was honoured as the Canadian flag-bearer at the closing ceremonies.
“I love the [Commonwealth Games], they’ve been really nice to me,” Frizell said with a huge smile.
“This is like fun zone for me,” she added.
The University of Georgia product is looking to lay down a marker on the Gold Coast after enduring an injury to a tendon in her foot and failing to qualify for Rio.
“It’s been kind of like a hard clawback for me,” she acknowledged.
Frizell has not competed much in recent months, saying things just did not come together schedule-wise. Missing out on qualifying for the 2017 IAAF World Championships by a matter of centimetres, she filled in the time by trying her hand at the New Brunswick Highland Games Festival in Fredericton.
“I broke two Canadian records,” she said proudly.
Add caber toss to Frizell’s résumé . “It’s like the biggest medicine ball heave of your life,” she said.
“I’m going back out on that bad boy,” said Frizell, who is lining up several more Highland Games competitions and already has a kilt in her wardrobe.
As far as her opposition on the Gold Coast, Frizell says all the top throwers are back from Glasgow including silver medallist Julia Ratcliffe of New Zealand and bronze medallist Sophie Hitchon of England.
Hitchon, who battled illness in Glasgow, also won bronze in Rio with a personal best of 74.54 metres. Her throw of 71.41 leads all Commonwealth athletes in 2018 and ranks sixth in the world.
Jillian Weir of Kingston, Ont., whose career best is 72.50 metres, is also in fine form. Her distance of 70.72 is 10th best in the world this year.
Frizell holds the Canadian record of 75.73 metres.
Co-captain of the Canadian track team here with wheelchair racer Alex Dupont of Clarenceville, Que., Frizell says she is keeping the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo “in her back pocket.”
“We’ll see if we can make another run for an Olympics because that would be fun. I like Japan.”
While she has her own practice hammers, Frizell will choose from the hammers available from the organizers when it comes to competition here.