Ryan Whiting: Looking for the big throws, representing the Shot Put, by Elliott Denman

Ryan Whiting is on a mission: to throw long, and throw clean. He wants to see more U.S. throwers doing well. 

Ryan Whiting, photo by PhotoRun.net

Last May, I watched him clobber a throw in Doha that was 22.28 meters, or 73 feet, 1.16 inches. His personal best indoors is from Istanbul, where Ryan won his first global title, with a 22 meter throw (72 feet, 2.25 inches). 

Ryan Whiting was the silver medalist in Moscow in the shot. Word is, that Ryan is fit and wants to throw long. The New Balance Indoor Grand Prix fans could be very, very lucky tomorrow. 

Here is a fine piece by Elliott Denman on how Ryan Whiting sees the world....

Ryan Whiting: representing the Shot Put
  UNIVERSITY PARK, PA. - Ryan Whiting's buildup to the 2014 season got rolling in the
third week of October, 2013.
  "That's two weeks later than normal for me," he tells you in a phone interview.
"It's going to be a long season. I want to be doing big things at the end."
   To the world's number one male shot putter, that means staying at the top of his game
at least through late August.  With no IAAF WorldChampionships (or Olympic Games)
to point to (this one-year-in-every-four situation), the IAAF World Indoor Championships (March 7-8-9 in Sopot, Poland) and the global Diamond League circuit opening in May become his primary focus.
   The 27-year-old Whiting doesn't get the respect he deserves. There are 22 individual events in global track and field and just three other American men - LaShawn Merritt (400), David Oliver (110 high hurdles) and Ashton Eaton (decathlon) are world number ones. But, likely, only the most sophisticated of American fans realize that Whiting is in that  top-of-the-heap league, too.
  It's about time things changed.  It's about time he emerged from the Rodney Dangerfield-ish shadows.
     Whiting has already competed twice this year - in a quick trip across the Atlantic last weekend, he uncorked a world-leading 21.37 meters (70 feet, 1 1/2 inches) heave to win at Bydgoszcz , Poland, on the last day of January, only to bow to archrival David Storl of Germany, 21.33 (69-11 3/4) to 21.01 (68-11 1/4)  on the first of February in Karlshrue, Germany.
   And that was his principal prep for the New Balance Grand PrixSaturday night at
Boston's Reggie Lewis Center.  With much of the Northeast blanketed in snow and ice, Whiting wasn't going to risk any flight delays and simply drove all the way from Central Pennsylvania to Beantown, where the competition is headed by two-time Olympic king Tomasz Majewski of Poland and the comebacking-from-injury Christian Cantwell.
   Whiting's 2014 goals are multi-faceted.
   (1) Of course, he plans to move up his status on all the world and American all-time
  His 22.28 win at Doha last year was the 2014 world leader by far and his outdoor PR,
ranking him equal 12th on the all-time world charts and No. 8 on the all-time American list.
   The all-time indoor list makes interesting reading.
   Whiting's PR of 22.03 was achieved at the Zurich Weltklasse ostensibly-outdoor meet held last Aug. 28th.  But the shot was staged undercover as a special event at the Zurich Hauptbahnhof (central rail station) and so counts on the indoor list.
   His PR in more-routine indoor circumstances is the 22.00 he used to collect the gold medal at the 2012 IAAF indoor worlds in Istanbul.
   So at 22.03 he's No. 8 on the all-time world indoor list and fifth American.
 (2) He's determined to continue proving "you can do it clean."
   "I was (drug) tested two days in a row just last week," he said.
  "I was probably tested 50 times alone last year.
  "My whole career?  I have no idea at all about how many times I've been tested."
  It's surely way up in the hundreds.
   And every time he checks all those charts - track and field is surely the ultimate numbers game - he wonders how many higher rungs he'd occupy if the performances of the "dirty" guys above him were expunged from the books.
  Most notably, of course, Randy Barnes.
  The West Virginian took gold (1996) and silver (1988) Olympic medals and continues to
own the world indoor (22.66) and outdoor (23.12) records, but continues, too, in disrepute after lifetime banishment from the sport in 1998.  There are 18 and 15-letter
explanations - methyltestosterone (1990) and androstenedione (1998.)
  (3) He's determined to see American male throwers - the shot men, anyway - more frequent invitees to the top rungs of the world's major podiums.
  Just one American (Cy Young in 1952) has ever won the Olympic javelin.
  Just one American (Harold Connolly in 1956) has won the Olympic hammer title in the last 89 years.
   Not since Mac Wilkins (1976) has an American won the Olympic discus.
   It's the USA shot putters, though, who give this nation its most throws hope.
  Americans have won six of the last seven world indoor shot crowns - John Godina (2001), Cantwell (2004-08-10), Reese Hoffa (2006) and Whiting (2012.)   Only Spain's Manuel
Martinez (2003) has been able to interrupt this USA game of monopoly.
 Outdoors, Americans Godina (1995-97-2001),  Adam Nelson (2005), Hoffa (2007) and Cantwell (2009) have won world golds. (Of course, there was the C.J. Hunter win in 1999,  too, followed by the disgraces of 2000 in Sydney.)
  Eight years late, Adam Nelson was ruled the Olympic shot put king of 2004.
   But Hoffa's bronze in 2012 has been the best by an American at the Games since then.
  "I still have some technique things to work on," says Whiting. "Nothing really big, just things like staying a little tighter in the circle and getting a little more energy at the back."
  Every Whiting workout seems to produce progress and added consistency.
  Sensational in high school (as national leader at Central Dauphin High School in
Harrisburg, Pa.), sensational as a collegian (six NCAA titles for Arizona State), he's been sensational as a pro ever since.
   But not every time out. Not making the finals at the London Olympics was a huge disappointment. And bowing to David Storl at the 2013 outdoor worlds (21.73 to 21.57) was a letdown. too.
  Still, Whiting won at 13 major 2013 meets in one of the most consistently sizzling seasons a
U.S. putter has achieved in years and years.
  He's happily back in Pennsylvania now, serving as a volunteer assistant coach at
Penn State when not heading out to the big meets.
  While Penn State throws coach Patrick Ebel coaches Whiting, Whiting helps Ebel coach such hot prospects as Darrell Hill, the PSU junior from Philadelphia, who's zeroing in on the 62-foot marker.
   Obviously, it's win-win situation for the Nittany Lions as well as for Whiting.
   "It's great for everybody here to have Ryan Whiting with us," said PSU assistant coach Kevin
Kelly. "His work ethic is tremendous.  He's certainly a very positive influence on everybody around here.
  "He's a world champion. That's pretty impressive.""

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