More than strong survive

Shot put: Champions in this sport aren't built on pure muscle alone.


Track And Field

March 20, 2002|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

Throwing a shot put that weighs nearly 8 1/2 poinds is not a sport for the average girl.

It requires a combination of technique, strength, quickness and concentration that few can muster.

Lindsay Grigoriev of Atholton, the area's premier girls shot-putter, is anything but average in athletic ability.

Her best throw was an impressive 42 feet, 6 inches last summer at the Junior Olympic nationals in Hampton Roads, Va. And she threw 40-10 this past indoor season -- the area's best.

Grigoriev throws the shot put because she hopes it will help her achieve a goal of competing in the Olympic heptathlon in the 2008 Beijing Games.

"People joke with me that it's a masculine thing to do, but I do it because I want to go somewhere with it," said the 5-foot-8, 170-pound junior, who also high-jumped and ran hurdles during indoor season.

The shot put also is her favorite track event.

"It is so difficult," she said. "You can do everything right, but if you do just one thing wrong, then you won't have a good day."

Most girls use a technique called the "glide" as opposed to the more difficult "spin" technique that boys use.

In the glide, the shot put is placed under the chin, body weight is shifted to the right leg and the left leg is relaxed. Then, the left leg shoots back for momentum. Next, the right foot is planted and then the left foot is planted. The thrower now is in a power position. The hips are turned quickly, and the left arm is whipped across the body before the shot is released with the right arm. Most girls yell for an extra burst of power as the shot put is released.

Grigoriev doesn't yell.

"I'm a silent thrower," Grigoriev said.

Meade's Sarah Cheeks threw her best -- 35-8 1/4 -- at the Class 4A-3A Central Regional indoor meet where she finished second. She does the yell.

A thrower since eighth grade, the 5-foot-8 Cheeks said: "It's all about technique, quickness on your feet and flexibility. Most people think you have to be strong, but you don't have to bench-press 400 pounds to be good."

She and Grigoriev both lift weights regularly, however. Cheeks bench-presses 265 pounds and Grigoriev does 150 pounds.

"The mental aspect is the most challenging for me," Cheeks said.

Grigoriev's coach, Adrian Valdez, a former shot-putter at Atholton, agrees that the mental aspects are tough. "You can't be intimidated by girls who are much bigger than you. Lindsay was at first. She thought she couldn't beat them. But just because they are big, that doesn't mean they are good."

Said Grigoriev: "The mental aspect is very important. You can't get mad. You have to concentrate. I try to think only about what I am doing, and not about what other girls are doing."

Mentally visualizing herself throwing well is another technique Grigoriev uses.

Grigoriev dealt with a lot of disappointment during indoor season because she pulled a hamstring muscle before the regionals and couldn't compete there or in states. She also missed the Nike Indoor Classic, but is working out now and will start practicing hurdles again soon.

Grigoriev succeeds, even though she is smaller than most of her competitors, because shot-putting is a sport of body control in which the power comes from the legs and from swiveling the hips as quickly as possible.

"A quick release is also important," Valdez said.

"You have to snap your wrist down as you release it," Grigoriev said. "The quicker the release, the farther it goes."

Her participation in events such as high jump and hurdles help develop the type of body control that helps shot putting.

Although Grigoriev thinks that shot-putting interest and competition has increased recently, girls still are not standing in line to learn the sport.

Amy Krusinski, the Meade girls track coach and a former shot-putter said it is hard to recruit girls to shot put.

"Boys coaches can recruit from the football team," she said. "But girls don't regard it as a glamour event. It's extremely technical -- a lot more is involved than just heaving a heavy ball."

Valdez agrees. "It's one of the hardest events to learn. It takes years of practice. It took 1 1/2 years to get Lindsay where she is. And it is certainly not a glamorous event -- unless you're Lindsay."

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