Camryn Rogers became even more of a world traveler this year, her first as a women’s hammer throw professional, but home remains where the heart is for the fast-rising 24-year-old from Richmond.
That’s why the Canadian record holder and silver medalist from the 2022 world championships is eagerly anticipating letting the metal ball fly from the familiar McLeod Stadium circle at the Harry Jerome Track Classic on July 14 and at the Canadian championships two weeks later at the same site.
“I’m so excited,” the personable Rogers said on a Zoom call on Wednesday ahead of first appearance at the Jerome. “Harry Jerome having such a historical significance in our community and to represent (Richmond ) Kajaks (track club) and women’s hammer throwing is an incredible opportunity.
“Growing up watching the meet and to finally be able to participate. I remember watching when I was younger and just thinking to myself ‘Oh, I hope one day I’ll be able to compete there.’ And now having a chance to do that, it’s going to be a lot of fun. Having familiar faces, being able to see people from home, it’s going to be one of those really fun, awesome experiences that I can’t wait to have.”
One of those familiar faces will be her mom, Shari, who raised Camryn mostly on her own. Too nervous to keep an eye on Camryn from the stands when she’s in the circle, Shari ducks her head and clutches a cherished necklace her daughter gave her 17 years ago.
“I always hold it and hope she can feel my energy,” Shari told CBC Sports at last year’s worlds.
Rogers competed at McLeod Stadium while a high school athlete before going on to become a three-time NCAA champion at the University of California. She surprised many with a fifth-place finish at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 as the youngest thrower in the field.
She finished second at worlds the following year in Eugene, Ore., before capturing gold at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England.
This spring, she twice bettered her own Canadian record with throws of 77.84 metres and 78.62 metres in California. Then she competed twice in Poland and twice in Finland in June, winning twice and finishing second twice with throws between 76.21 and 77.62 metres.
At Tokyo and Birmingham, she relied on Athletics Canada staff for logistical help. This year she was basically been on her own in Europe.
“It’s been really nice to have the experience of going to so many different kinds of meets. It helps to know what to expect for the coming years . . . and to realize how you operate when you’re traveling alone, when you’re finding information by yourself at these meets. It’s been a great year for learning and growing. I feel like I’ve changed so much as a person and as an athlete.”
Rogers is coming off a throw of 76.95 metres in rainy, cool conditions at Edmonton on Sunday and feels like little changes she’s made in technique while striving to maintain her power and energy will lead to big throws in the future.
“I’ve been working really hard in training and I feel like this year has been very consistent,” said Rogers. “I feel like there could be some good throws next weekend.”
Between the Jerome, nationals and the World Athletics championships in Budapest in August, could a throw of 80 metres, which world champion Brooke Anderson of the U.S., hit for the first time on May 20, be in the offing?
“The 80-metre barrier is huge, a monumental achievement for a female hammer thrower,” says a beaming Rogers. “It’s something only three women in the history of the sport have ever done. Knowing I’m now closer to 80 than I am to 70 is something that helps fuel the fire of wanting to keep pushing and pushing and pushing and see how far I can throw.
“World championships is going to be crazy, going to be insane. Potentially, all three women who have thrown over 80 metres are going to be there, which is going to be incredible and is going to add to the energy and excitement. As someone who loves high-energy competitions, I can’t wait to be in there and fighting for that podium.”
As the youngest of the world’s elite throwers, Rogers also knows that time is on her side. Many don’t hit their peak until their late 20s and early 30s.
“Knowing that there’s still so much more that I have left to learn, and also accept that I need to learn, is just part of the process. It really is just the beginning of my professional career.” “There’s way more time to continue pushing, developing and building something to be really proud of. That makes me even happier to know there’s a lot ahead of us.”
Written by: Gary Kingston