Teacher by day, shotputter by night
While it may be common for kids to enroll in basketball or football, it isn’t often that you hear kids asking when the sign up date for shot put is.
That is, unless your name is Chris Pickering.
Pickering, a fourth-year member of the University of Regina track and field team, admits that body type had a lot to do with him being thrust into a shotputter’s shoes rather early in life.
“I started in track when I was 12 years old. I was really young and I was a relatively big kid,” Pickering said. “I have been the same relative height since the sixth or seventh grade – quite a bit lighter then – but in track and I was a big kid so I tried [shot put] out and I was decent at it.”
“Decent” may be a rather large understatement considering that Pickering recently won a bronze medal at the CIS championships on March 10 in Winnipeg. Although he was one of only two Cougars to reach the podium, Pickering still feels his performance has room for improvement.
“I was relatively happy, I have been going through a few injuries this year,” Pickering admitted. “At the beginning of the season, I broke my life collarbone throwing weight so I more or less had to stop doing upper body stuff. So I am happy, but I really think I could have done better.”
Pickering’s throw of 17.32 metres on the final day of competition was good enough for third place and the throw came within just one centimetre of breaking the U of R record, which Pickering set earlier in the season.
“It’s kind of funny, in warm-ups that day I threw 18m and the day before I threw 18.47m,” Pickering said. “So, I was happy with how I did, but I definitely think I could have done better and there is room for improvement.
“I know they say a lot about having to compete against yourself; I know a lot of guys that are better than I am, but you still have to have that drive to want to improve on your own,” he said. “Shot put isn’t like basketball or football where there is hundreds and hundreds of guys, you don’t have a whole team of dudes around you. It is still an individual sport so you have to have that drive to get better yourself.”
Although all the pressure is on Pickering when it comes to performing, the support that he has from the rest of the track and field team is unbelievable.
“We have a really tight-knit, good group of guys and girls on our team,” he said. “Just being a part of that, going to meets and competing and having 10 or 15 other athletes on your team cheering for you, it would be very different to not have people there cheering for you.”
With the competition season over for now, Pickering will finally have some time to rest and, more importantly, time to heel an ever-growing list of injuries.
“A typical off season is about three weeks to heal,” Pickering explained. “This collar bone, luckily I don’t need surgery, the pain is almost all the way gone. Then I have a partial tear on [my] peck, which is almost back to normal again, but it is going to be a couple more weeks. Then I have bursitis in the right elbow, which needs to get healed, and I have two ribs out in the back that need to get fixed. My knees from squatting three times a week need to get back to normal so I get about a month off and then back to training.”
Once Pickering’s multiple injuries return to prime condition, he can start planning his future, for both his first choice and his back up plan.
“I know not next year but the year after there is a world university games here and I would like to qualify for that and then my last year is the year before the next Olympics,” he said. “I would definitely like to try and give it my best shot over the next three years to become an Olympic level thrower. If it comes to the fact that I don’t become an Olympic level thrower, then I know that I have given it my best shot and I can move on and I can be a gigantic kindergarten teacher.”