Justice Prevails for Dylan

Dylan Armstrong finally gets his bronze

The record-setting shot putter is finally getting an Olympic medal from Beijing, six and a half years late  MACLEANS

Jonathon Gatehouse

January 29, 2015

Olympics Day 7 - Athletics
Olympics Day 7 - Athletics

Michael Steele/Getty Images

Dylan Armstrong didn’t expect to win a medal at the 2008 Beijing Games. Only 2½ years into his shot-put career, he was pleased just to have made the 12-man Olympic final. And blind enough to the possibility of victory that he left for the Bird’s Nest stadium that night without even bothering to pack the special podium outfit issued to Team Canada members.

Then his second throw on that sticky evening travelled 21.04 m, not just a personal best, but a national record as well. Heading into the sixth and final round, only two other competitors had tossed the 7.26-kilogram ball farther. Athletics Canada officials were suddenly engaged in a desperate search for a red and white track suit, size XXXL.

Armstrong ended up missing bronze by a single centimetre, pipped by Andrei Mikhnevich of Belarus, a former world champion who had already served a two-year ban for doping infractions. It was another “almost” in a Games that saw a dozen fourth-place finishes from Canadian athletes. “A lot of people ask if I was disappointed, but I was actually really, really happy,” Armstrong says from his winter training base in Honolulu. “I did everything I could.”

It’s a warm memory that has kept the now 34-year-old going through training, injury and a less-satisfying fifth at the 2012 London Games, where he was one of the favourites. But soon he will have a far better Chinese souvenir. On Feb. 15, in front of a hometown crowd in Kamloops, B.C., Armstrong will receive the Olympic bronze he was denied that night. It has been two years since the IAAF applied new testing technology to one of Mikhnevich’s frozen samples from the 2005 worlds and discovered he had again been juicing, triggering a lifetime ban. Six months ago, the International Olympic Committee scratched the Belarusian’s name from the record books and added Armstrong’s in its place. The whole process—hearings, deliberations, appeals and punishment—has been lengthy and frustrating. Yet there’s still a thrill in receiving Canada’s first-ever Olympic medal in shot put—even if it comes 6½ years late, to the very day. “I’m just really looking forward to having it around my neck,” says Armstrong.

Back home, his mother, Judy, is busy planning the party. The medal ceremony, flush with dignitaries, will take place on the Sunday afternoon, during the city’s annual Van Ryswyk Indoor Invitational track meet. Then in the evening, there will be a testimonial dinner at Thompson Rivers University. “I’ve got posters up all over town,” says Judy, not just a proud parent, but also the president of the Kamloops Track and Field Club. “We’re really hoping the community comes out.”

Judy, who was on hand that night in Beijing, along with Dylan’s brother, David, has mixed emotions about the delayed victory. She takes great pride in Dylan’s many accomplishments, including two golds at the Pan Ams, another at the Commonwealth Games, and a silver and a bronze at the world championships, but laments the celebration that should have been. “He was robbed of his moment,” she says. “So this is bittersweet.”

Armstrong is more stoic. He says he long ago accepted that cheating is part of his, and many other, sports. “There is always going to be somebody who steps over the line,” he says. Stewing about the dopers, or near misses, is a waste of time. “It leads to negative thoughts, and that’s not healthy.”

These days he has enough worries to contend with. Twenty years of hurling heavy objects—first the hammer, then the shot put—has finally worn down his immense six-foot-four, 340-lb. frame. In late December, he underwent three hours of surgery on his right elbow to remove several marble-sized bone chips, and grind down the joint where it was starting to fuse together. The elbow had been bothering him since the run-up to the London Games, but became a chronic problem after he won bronze at the 2013 worlds in Moscow. Last season, he could barely compete.

Now, only a few weeks removed from the operation, Armstrong is back in the gym and looking towards the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro. He’ll be 35 by then— a little old by the sport’s standards—but his desire to compete remains strong. “I do this because I love to throw,” he says.

The dream that Armstrong has nurtured since he started track at age 9, throwing discus, long jumping, running hurdles and the 400-m, is about to come true. When he gets back to Kamloops, he’s going to rummage through some boxes and see if he can locate that Beijing podium suit. Then, with or without it, after a proper party, he’ll close the book on the past, and start working on the future.

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Dylan Armstrong wins world championship bronze medal

Dylan Armstrong

Canadian shot putter Dylan Armstrong awarded bronze medal from 2010


BURNABY, B.C. - Dylan Armstrong's big day finally arrived Thursday as the Canadian shot putter was presented with a world indoor championship bronze medal from 2010.

Armstrong earned the medal, originally awarded to Andrei Mikhnevich, after the Belarusian athlete's results were annulled for a second doping violation. Mikhnevich received a lifetime ban from his country's federation for a second offence discovered last year in retests of an older sample.

"It's wonderful that my coach (Anatoliy Bondarchuk) and I, friends, family and sponsors can finally celebrate this medal," said Armstrong in an interview before the presentation at the Harry Jerome International Track Classic.

Armstrong had to wait more than a year to receive the hardware from the 2010 world indoors in Doha, Qatar after the International Association of Athletics Federations moved him from fourth place to third.

"It's just nice that the IAAF made this happen and were really supportive of me getting it quick," said Armstrong.

Armstrong, who calls himself a "patient guy," said it was not that difficult to wait for his medal.

The 33-year-old Kamloops, B.C. native says he's finding it more difficult to wait to recover from an elbow injury that has sidelined him most of this season and prevented him from competing in the Jerome, one of his favourite events.

"I'm waiting on some more (medical) consulting and (to) get a date and get it done," he said. "Basically, I want to get this over with and get healthy so I can get ready for 2015 and then get ready for 2016."

Rob Guy congratulates Dylan armstrong   photo by Brian Cliff

Armstrong is aiming to compete at the 2015 world outdoor championships in Beijing and the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, where he hopes to improve on a disappointing fifth place finish at the 2012 London Games.

He expects to undergo surgery in Vancouver within a month to repair bone spurs that prevent him from extending his elbow as he makes his toss.

"I can't get a real extension on it," he said. "So I just have to get that done. It's loaded with arthritis."

Armstrong expects his post-surgery recovery to take five to seven weeks. The elbow has bothered him since 2012, but he was still able to compete at the London Games. He also competed in 2013 when he won a bronze medal at the world championships in Moscow.

He decided to shut down his season after limited throwing activity in the spring.

"I was kind of good until April and then it started acting up," he said. "I (thought), I'm not going to push this because, at my age, I'm not getting any younger. But if I do want to have a good chance of getting on the podium in 2015 (and 2016), this is the year that I've got to take care of this (injury)."

While he can't throw, he is still working on his aerobics by cycling, running and walking.

The hiatus will prevent him from competing at the upcoming Commonwealth Games in Scotland, but he says he is "OK" with missing them after claiming gold in the 2010 Commonwealths. He is optimistic the rest from competition will be good mentally and leave him feeling re-charged as he prepares for the 2015 Worlds and 2016 Olympics.

Even if Armstrong doesn't qualify for Rio, he still has a chance to get an Olympic medal. Mikhnevich's ban means Armstrong is in line for a possible bronze from the 2008 Games in Beijing, where he finished fourth.

But that's still up to the International Olympic Committee, which has not yet decided to give him the medal. Armstrong said the Canadian Olympic Committee is still in the process of pressing his case with the IOC.

"There's a process around it, and I've got to be patient," he said.

Notes: The Jerome meet features rare men's and women's mile events as a tribute to the 60th anniversary of the Miracle Mile, when Britain's Roger Bannister and Australia's John Landy, who placed second, became the first men to run the distance under four minutes at the British Empire (now Commonwealth) Games in Vancouver. … Armstrong refused to touch the bronze medal during a live TV interview before the official presentation. "That's bad luck," he said.

© Tofino Ucluelet Westerly

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Dylan Armstrong to receive World Championship medal at Jerome Track Classic

dylan armstrong photo by Nathan Denette, Canadian Press Dylan Armstrong, the 33-year-old Kamloops, B.C., native, will be awarded the bronze medal in men’s shot put from the 2010 World Indoor Championships on Thursday evening at the 2014 Vancouver Sun Harry Jerome Track Classic by Rob Guy, the President of Athletics Canada.

This recognition to Canada’s greatest ever shot putter is a result of the International Association of Athletics Federation annulment the results of Belarusian Andrei Mikhnevich dating back to August 2005 after re-testing a selection of doping samples collected at the 2005 World Championships. Mikhnevich is now banned for life by the IAAF.

Dylan Armstrong

Dylan’s performance in Doha, Qatar of 21.39m is now moved to the 3rd position and the bronze medal.

“They’ve obviously done the right thing. I feel grateful to the IAAF that they’ve gone back and re-tested and taken the appropriate steps to resolve this case,” said Armstrong.

The IAAF decision has paved the way for the IOC to take action on the annulment of Mikhnevich’s 3rd place performance at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.  This would move Dylan to the bronze medal, the first by a Canadian shot putter in Olympic history.

 Dylan Armstrong  photo THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

This official ceremony by the IAAF’s national governing body, Athletics Canada at the Vancouver Sun Harry Jerome Track Classic is appropriate as Dylan Armstrong considers Swangard Stadium to be his second home. Dylan holds the meet record of 21.31m and the Canadian record of 22.21m. Dylan’s 2014 season has been hampered by an injury and is unable to compete this year.

Dylan Armstrong  REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach (RUSSIA

His career to date has been outstanding. He is the 2007 and 2011 Pan American champion and the 2010 Commonwealth Games champion. Dylan has the Canadian, Commonwealth and Pan-American records. The Kamloops native is a three time world championship medalist; 2010 indoor bronze in Doha, Qatar, 2011 outdoor silver in Daegu, Korea and 2013 outdoor bronze in Moscow. He is the pending Olympic bronze medalist at the 2008, Beijing Olympics. In summation one of Canada’s greatest athletes!

Over 300 athletes from 23 nations will compete in the Vancouver Sun Harry Jerome Track Classic featuring the 60th Anniversary of the Miracle Mile presented by Northern Gateway on July 10 at Swangard Stadium.

Tickets are $25 finish line and $10 general admission and are available at www.harryjerome.com