Dylan Armstrong won the shot put event at the Donovan Bailey Invitational track and field meet, which was hardly a surprise. But how he won – with a toss of 21.02 metres was unexpected, even for him.
Locked in a heavy training schedule, the 31-year-old Kamloops native topped an eight-man field Saturday that included Americans Ryan Whiting and 2008 Olympic silver medalist Christian Cantwell. With his final throw at Foote Field, Armstrong unleashed his best effort of the afternoon before raising his right arm in triumph.
"I'm really surprised to throw that far," Armstrong said. "That's really good for me, training hard through this with sore muscles. I'm extremely happy with that performance."
Armstrong has been a consistent top-three finisher in the prestigious Diamond League circuit so far and thrown for a seasonal best 21.50 metres. His personal best is 22.21 as he looks to make up for his disappointment at the 2008 Olympics. In Beijing, he missed the podium by one centimetre.
"I've got Calgary [the site of the 2012 Canadian nationals later this month] and then a training camp afterward," explained Armstrong. "I'm throwing and lifting twice a day. You've got to train smart."
Armstrong has already made the Olympic qualifying standard but will use the Nationals to work on his technique.
"I'd like a big throw at the Nationals. But you have to keep in mind the goal is always London," he added.
Whiting finished second here at the Donovan Bailey while Canadian Justin Rodhe was third.
The women's 100-metre hurdles provided a final tune-up for the Nationals. Five women - Priscilla Lopes-Schliep, Phylicia George, Nikkita Holder, Angela Whyte and Perdita Felicien – will be vying for three tickets to London. All five competed here and it was Lopes-Schliep who finished first in a time of 12.64 seconds.
Whyte was third, George was fourth, Holder fifth and Felicien sixth. All five Canadian women have run under 13 seconds.
"It definitely felt good to come out and win today – my first win as a mom," said Lopes-Schliep, who missed last season due to the birth to her daughter Nataliya. "There are just a few things to touch up for the Nationals and then hopefully it's on to London."
Lopes-Schliep won a bronze medal at the Beijing Olympics and is eager to see other Canadians do well this summer.
"The hurdles field is definitely growing," she said of her Canadian counterparts. "Hopefully it'll transfer over to other events."
The men's 100 metres closed the meet. It featured three Jamaicans, including 2011 world champion Yohan Blake, the youngest sprinter to win gold at a worlds. He ran 10.05 here to edge American Trell Kimmons (10.11) and fellow Jamaican Lerone Clarke (10.13). Canadian Justyn Warner was fifth at 10.32.