Shot put competition is lacking in Canada, according to Tim Nedow. So he came to Lawrence, Kansas.
Nedow won the Kansas Relays’ fifth annual downtown shot put event, which takes over a city block in downtown Lawrence. Nedow launched his winning throw of 67 feet, 11 inches in the sixth and final round — down 8th Street, towards New Hampshire Street, the ball skirting over parts of 750 tons of crushed limestone that covered the asphalt.
It was the third year in a row Nedow came to Lawrence for the downtown event, but it was the first time he won here. In fact, it was his first time defeating several of those competing, including Christian Cantwell — the two-time defending champion and former Olympian — and Reese Hoffa, who won in 2012.
Nedow, who splits his training time between Canada and Sweden, makes it a point to come to Lawrence for the stiff competition he knows he’ll face.
“A lot of these guys I’ve never beaten before actually,” he said. “That’s why I get to these meets. There’s not much going on with Canada shot put right now. So I’ve got to get down and throw against these guys, because these guys are world and Olympic champions and top guys in the world.”
The eight other shot putters competing on Friday enjoyed the unique atmosphere that keeps drawing Nedow.
Hundreds of fans cheered from the sidewalks and portable bleachers. Several enjoyed a birds-eye view from the rooftop of the Sandbar, a nearby watering hole, with beer bottles perched on the edge of the green building. Fans enjoyed a picturesque 70-degree day, a light breeze sending the throwers’ white chalk puffing through the air.
Although there were a few good-natured boos for Cantwell, who is a former Missouri Tiger, fans weren’t too discriminating with their affection. They sang happy birthday to Jonathan Jones (a top 20 thrower worldwide), who will turn 25 on Saturday. Chants of “Reese, Reese, Reese!” filled the air when Hoffa stepped to the throwing circle.
One fan even yelled out, “Nedow! The people’s thrower!” as the Canadian prepared for one of his six throws.
“I’ve never even met the guy,” Nedow laughed. But that interaction is part of the charm that keeps him coming back to Lawrence.
“Every year I come back it gets bigger and bigger and louder,” he said. “I think the first year they didn’t know if they were allowed to scream or whatnot, and now they know they’re allowed to get going, so it’s a lot of fun. … I’d rather have them here cheering for us than 10,000 people all around a track.”
Nedow secured his first outdoor victory of the year. He’s vying for a spot on Canada’s Olympic team this summer.
Regardless of what is in his future, Nedow said he’ll always find time to come back to Lawrence — for the atmosphere, the competition and the beers he’ll share afterwards with some of the world’s best.
“I’m 25, so I’ll be back for more,” he said. “I’ll be coming back as long as they invite me.”
▪ The Kansas men and women swept the 3,200-meter relays. The men’s team, featuring Brandon Bernal, Adel Yoonis, Bryce Richards and Daniel Koech, won its relay in 7 minutes, 35.33 seconds. The KU women — Whitney Adams, Hannah Dimmick, Lydia Saggau and Nashia Baker — won theirs in 8:57.16.
▪ Michael Stigler, a former Jayhawk and last year’s NCAA champion in the 400-meter hurdles, won his preliminary race. He hit the sub-50-second mark in his first race of the year, with a time of 49.84. He’ll race in the final, set for 6:45 p.m. Saturday at Rock Chalk Park, then continue training for the Olympic trials in July.
▪ Former Jayhawk Mason Finley had a discus throw of 210 feet, 2 inches, breaking the KU Relays record.
▪ Blake Smith, a former Southeast Missouri Redhawk, set a Rock Chalk Park facility record in the 100 meters with a time of 10.34 seconds. The 100 meter final is set for Saturday at 6:11 p.m.