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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

On Your Marks... Get Set... Throw!!

And it's on! My 2012 Olympic campaign began with a solid effort in my first meet on April 7th at the UBC Open in Vancouver, BC. My second round throw of 75.49M was enough to win the competition and also to grasp the 1st overall ranking in Canada. My coach, Don Steen, and I were very pleased with the result as it is an improvement of over 5M from my previous season's opening marks. About 3M short of my lifetime best of 78.32M, this mark has definitely validated all of the training we have been doing through the winter. The confidence gained has been great through the last two weeks of training, and beginning the competitive season has proven to be both motivating and exciting. Although I am very pleased with the opener, our study of film revealed some old nagging habits, that when cleaned up, will surely improve my distances. Check out the video of my 75M toss here:

Seeing as this is one of my earliest blogs, I would like to take the time to tell you a bit about myself and to answer some questions that I run into a lot when discussing my sport so please read along below through my FAQ's!

1. What is a Javelin?

A Javelin, simply put, is a spear. The Men's competitive Javelins are made from Steel, Carbon Fiber or a Composite material. They weigh 800G (1.76 lbs) and are 2.60M-2.70M in length (~8'6"). The Women's Javelins are made from the same materials but weigh 600G (1.32 lbs) and are 2.2M-2.3M in length (~7'3").

2. How did you get into Javelin?

This one always comes up and first and foremost, thank you Neil Sami. Interestingly enough I did not initially seek Javelin as an event to compete in. I attended Burnaby Central Secondary School, which has a great tradition in track and field. Ken Taylor was the coach until the year I got there and his legacy was being continued by Micah Chan and Devon Chan, along with John Uzelac, all being former athletes of Ken Taylor. Prior to my arrival at Central, there were two Javelin throwers who had won the provincial championships in Javelin. Adam Pankratz and Blake Smelser, who both also played football at Central, won back-to-back titles together and consecutively set Central records. When they both graduated from Central, Micah asked at our first team meeting, if there was anybody who would like to throw Javelin. Darren Wilson, who also played football at Central, was already throwing but Micah wanted to add another thrower for more points at Provincial Championships. When nobody raised their hand, Neil Sami raised his. Shocked, Micah asked, "Neil?! YOU want to throw Javelin?" Neil's reply was, "No. Curtis should do it, he can throw a football and a baseball really far." I re-iterate NOBODY wanted to throw Javelin and I was one of them. I was also already training for the Decathlon, which I competed in the year before and although Javelin was one of the events, I never trained for it. After hearing Neil's faith that I could do decently well at it, I obliged. The next day I was out on the field throwing Javelin and getting beat by Darren as well as all the girls left right and centre. I measured my throw that day because I wanted to know how I was progressing if I was going to stick it out. My best at the end of Day 1? 12M. I was lousy, or so I thought I would continue to be, but something competitive in me saw it as a challenge and by the end of that year (Grade 10), and with a ton of coaching, I won Bronze at the BC High School Championships and threw over 53M. Again, thank you Neil Sami!

3. So, like, do you have a coach or something?

Don Steen has been my coach on and off for the last decade or so and I first met Don near the end of Grade 9. Micah Chan introduced me to this tall white haired gentleman at Burnaby Central and told me not to say anything stupid. I was pretty quiet but Micah had spent most of our practice gushing over Don and his accomplishments like today's ninth graders over Justin Beiber; I was weirded out and impressed by Micah's guffahing. Don was an athlete at the University of Oregon as a decathlete and also spent a lot of time playing basketball and rugby when he wasn't teaching, coaching domestically/internationally and building sports in British Columbia. He really needs to sit down and write a book before I even attempt to list his achievements as I fear blogger would cut me off. Try 'Googling' (Which owns blogger) his name and just peruse the entries. You will be shocked to find that yes, most of the entries under this name although vastly contrasting in achievement, document the same guy. When I began my Grade 10 year, Don began telling me that I needed to leave all that nonsense alone, that nonsense being Soccer, Rugby, Basketball, Baseball and Football. He said that I should focus on track as I reminded him of the likes of his son David Steen, 1988 Canadian Bronze Medallist in the Decathlon. To say the least, narrowing my athletic aim was a struggle. Playing football in my family is a right-of-passage as I have Uncles and Cousins who played professionally in the NFL and also my Dad, Leroy Moss, who played in the NFL and CFL (Drafted by the Bengals, played one year there), winning a Grey Cup with the Edmonton Eskimos in 1975. My Dad was also our coach (my twin brother Prentice and I, I also have an older brother, Ryan) for Basketball, Football and Baseball. Baseball was the other sport that was difficult to argue quitting as it was my favourite sport and arguably my best sport until I quit to focus on Athletics. By Grade 11 I was a Football and Track guy and after High School made attempts to go back to Football twice until ultimately giving it up to focus on Track and Field. Due to some unforeseen circumstances, I chose to head south of the border for a year where I trained with Justin St. Clair who himself had thrown high 70M's and with whom I threw over 70M for the first time in my career. Justin headed for Duke as a coach after my time at Southeastern Louisiana University and ultimately ended up as an athlete at the Olympic Training Centre in Chula Vista, California, almost every American T&F athlete's dream! I headed home and began to attend University of British Columbia where I was coached by Tom Nielsen for two seasons and won an NAIA title. When I finished my career at UBC I sought out Don's expertise again and for the last two seasons we have been training together with the same focus; Qualifying for and making the finals at the 2012 London Olympic Games. Not an easy task and one that has required a complete overhaul of my technique, training plan and focus. Patience young grasshopper!

My next competition will be this Saturday April 21st at the University of Oregon for the Oregon Relays. I won this meet last year with a 73M throw. I know I will need to throw quite a bit further than this to win and I am confident that Oregon will provide the atmosphere and conditions to throw very far. Hayward has often been referred to as the Track & Field 'Mecca' with the likes of Steve Prefontaine and Bill Bowerman (Don's coach while at the U of O) being the historically most prominent figures. Oregon is also the birth place of Nike, started when Bill Bowerman, then head coach at Oregon, made shoes for his athletes including Pre, using resin and many, many, many of his wife's waffle irons, completely ruining them for further use. Simple beginnings for one of the world's most recognizable brands.

The Forecast? Training has been great, my body feels a lot better than previous seasons and my confidence has been great. I am pumped for the competition and to go out and see what I am capable of. Taking the training wheels off for this one so it will be a good early season test of my progress. Please stay posted for results and hopefully I will be able to get some video of the meet on my next entry.

Well I think that is enough reading for today! I need to get on here more often so I don't feel like I am unloading such a huge entry all the time (A bit contradictory to the title :S). Please feel free to e-mail me at curtisjmoss@gmail.com with any questions, encouragement and inspiration you may have for me. I appreciate you taking the time to read this and I will try to keep this blog up to date on a weekly basis throughout the entire 2012 season (and hopefully beyond!). 

   - Curtis Moss

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