COLUMBIA — Former MU shot-putter and Columbia resident, Christian Cantwell, will be going for gold in London on Friday.
A 2003 MU graduate, Cantwell competed in his first Olympics at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. A throw of 69 feet and 2.31 inches earned him the silver medal. The gold went to Tomasz Majewski of Poland who threw 70 feet and 6.85 inches.
Cantwell's performance this year in the 2012 Olympic Trials was better than his 2008 performance. At the trials, Cantwell threw 69 feet and 9.75 inches. His throw, though still not near his personal best of 73 feet and 11.50 inches, did earn him third place behind Reese Hoffa and Adam Nelson who both threw 72 feet and 5.75 inches.
In London, Cantwell will go up against some fierce competition. In addition to his American teammate Hoffa, Poland's Majewski will be back as will the 2008 Olympic bronze medalist, Belarusian Andrei Mikhnevik.
Cantwell's former coach, Brett Halter, head coach of MU's track and field team, said Cantwell is one of the best athletes he's worked with.
"His competition is hard to beat though," Halter said. Shot-put requires mental capabilities that are necessary for success, so if he keeps his head he should do well, he said.
Halter coached Cantwell from 2000-2010 and is pleased to see him compete in the Olympics this year.
"It's what he wants to do. He wants to throw against the best people in the world and beat them. It's what he loves to do," Halter said.
"I'd just remind him to enjoy it because it's what he loves," he said if he had the possibility to give Cantwell some last minute advice before his competition tomorrow.
Cantwell will compete in the qualifying round tomorrow at 10 a.m. London time (4 a.m. CDT), and the finals will go at 8:00pm London time (2 p.m. CDT).
He will be first in Group A for the qualifying round.