Shortly after he arrived home from New Zealand last February, Sam received a call from the Paralympic head coach. She said, “You’re on the team for 2012”. Sam was thrilled but he knew that the hard work had only begun. He knew that to go to London, he would have to throw the shot put 10.5 meters or more to stay on the team. And, he has.
Except for a short break, Sam has been training. He threw the shot once or twice a week and filled in with aerobic exercise. In late April, he traveled to the Olympic Training facility near San Diego for a week -long Throws Camp with the other Paralympic field athletes. The Paralympic coaches had him throwing for a couple of hours and then lifting weights for another three hours each day for most of the week. He then flew to Arizona for the Desert Challenge, May 6, where he threw the shot 10.56 Meters.
At the US Paralympic Trials in Miramar, Florida (June 17) he threw the shot put 10.58 meters, won the gold medal for his class and further cemented his place on the National Elite “A” Paralympic team . With his sights set on 10.75 Meters, he returned from Florida Saturday, June 18 and flew out again Wednesday, June 22, to Calgary, Canada. Arriving after midnight Thursday morning he tried to get in enough sleep before his first event at 3pm that afternoon. He started the Canadian meet with a personal best of 31.43 Meters in the discus, making the “B” standard. Discus is a challenge for Sam because of the tightness in his muscles but he continues to inch closer and closer to the 35 Meter “A” Standard.
On Saturday, June 25, he threw the shot put a personal best of 10.82 Meters, setting a new US record and going beyond his 10.75 meter goal. The World Record for his class is only a little over 11 Meters, set in New Zealand in January.
On the Monday before he left for Florida, he had a strong massage to loosen him up. Tightness is Sam’s biggest hurdle. Because of his Cerebral Palsy, using his muscles tends to tighten them up, becoming counter-productive. Stretching and a massage are critical to his success.
For each competition, Sam goes through a training cycle, designed to get him to “peak” or throw his farthest at a particular point. He will rest, and then build up to an intense workout schedule about a week before a meet. He will then rest and try to get a massage immediately before a meet.
This week will be a week off from training and then he’ll start his workout cycle. He will again throw once or twice a week and continue the aerobic training. With the Revolution just around the bend, hand cycling will be a big part of this next cycle. He will also add a Water Fitness class at Los Medanos college where he is a student, starting August 12 to increase flexibility and fitness.
September and October may see Sam again on his way to Throws Camps in Chula Vista at the Olympic Training Center. In November he will travel to Guadalajara, Mexico, as part of the Paralympic Team participating in the Parapan Games. London is just a little over a year away.