In a country with a growing reputation lately, as a home for stellar heavy metal throwers, Rowan Hamilton is looking to hammer his way into the conversation as the track and field season rolls toward the 2024 Paris Olympics.

Hamilton, a Chilliwack native (Greater Vancouver) and University of British Columbia product, will be one of the spotlighted performers at the upcoming Harry Jerome Track Classic June 15-16.

With the 16th-best hammer throw in the world this year, Hamilton is eyeing a berth on the Canadian Olympic team alongside reigning men’s world champion Ethan Katzberg of Nanaimo, women’s hammer throw world champion Camryn Rogers of Richmond and shot putter Sarah Mitton, the world indoor champion and 2023 world outdoor silver medalist from Brooklyn, N.S.

Mitton will also be competing at the Jerome when the shot put is included with all the track events on June 15 at Burnaby’s Swangard Stadium. The hammer and discuss events will be staged the next day at Langley’s McLeod Stadium.

Hamilton, who is 24 and who competed for the University of California this year, threw a season-best 77.16 metres on April 20, a metre shy of the 78.20 needed to meet the outright Olympic qualifying standard. But his two-year points placing on World Athletics’ Road to Paris ranking list has him battling with veteran Adam Keenan of Victoria for one of 32 spots in the hammer throw field in France. 

“Lately, I’ve been thinking about it more and more,” Hamilton said recently about earning a spot on the team for Paris. “For so long, I’ve wanted to become an Olympian, even if I wasn’t sure in what sport. I played soccer and basketball as a kid before track and I always told my parents, I just want to go to the Olympics.”

“Now, to see it becoming a possibility for me, it’s just such an exciting point in my life to see that dream becoming more realistic.”

Hamilton, Sport BC’s college athlete of the year for 2023, won three consecutive NAIA championships while at UBC before heading to Cal and the NCAA.

“It was just a good option for me, especially with all the rising talent in the NCAA. I knew it was going to be a highly competitive year with so many Olympic prospects and a good environment for me to train in.”

He’ll throw Wednesday at the NCAA championships in Eugene, Ore., and at the Edmonton Invitational June 13 before lining up at the Jerome.

“I’m hoping to hit that automatic qualifying number in those next three meets before the Canadian Olympic trials,” said Hamilton, who threw 76.53 to win the NCAA Pac 12 championship on May 11. “It’s what I’ve been preparing for all year. I’m happy with the way things have been going, now I’m just looking for a little more growth.”

“Langley was where I competed in my first ever real track meet, the first time I ever threw the hammer, so it has some sentimental value for me. The Jerome is my home meet now, so it’s going to be really special to throw in front of a home crowd where the whole thing started for me.”

Hamilton was 13th at the 2023 World Championships, just failing to qualify for the final where Keenan was 12th.

Mitton has the best throw in the world this year, a Canadian record 20.68 metres, at a meet in Fleetwood, Pa., on May 11 and has a pair of second-place finishes in Diamond League events this season, including Sunday at Stockholm, where she threw 19.98 metres.

“I spend nearly every day tweaking my movement/rotation in the circle to be as close to perfect as I can get,” Mitton told CBC after her huge throw in early May. “I am becoming more consistent and more confident in attacking the throw every week. “Maintaining the status quo and staying healthy is the goal ahead of Paris.”

FINISH LINE: Another newly minted Canadian record holder is also set to compete at the Jerome on June 15. Ceili McCabe of Vancouver secured her first Olympic berth by running the women’s 3000-metre steeplechase in 9:20.58 in Los Angeles on May 18. Genevieve Lalonde set the old mark of 9:22.40 at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021. Tickets and schedule for this year’s Jerome can be found online at www.harryjerome.com.

Featured image from Harry Jerome Track Classic in 2018. Photo credit: Christopher Kelsall/Athletics Illustrated

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