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Interval Session #90 - Lauren Chambers

By Dave Devine - January 15, 2009

For some time now, Kell GA senior Lauren Chambers has been a mainstay on the yearly throwing lists for an impressive array of implements.  The current US#1 in the indoor weight throw, with a 58-04.75 heave against collegiate and open throwers at the Ed Temple Invite in Tennessee, Chambers was the 2008 National Scholastic Indoor champion in the shot put at 49-01.50, and a third place finisher
at the USATF Junior Nationals in the hammer throw.  That placing led to one of the highlights of her young career, earning Chambers a slot on the US team that traveled to Bydgoszcz, Poland, for the World Junior Championships last summer.  While she failed to land a legal mark in the opening round of that competition, she earned valuable international experience which will undoubtedly serve her well down the road.

Already a two-time defending champion in the weight throw at the Simplot Games in Idaho (and '08 champ in the shot put as well), Chambers plans a return to Pocatello later this winter to go for the three-peat.  Her twin brother, Justin, is an elite track athlete in his own right, a 2008 Georgia state champ with 47-second 400- and 21-second 200 speed.

DyeStat senior editor Dave Devine heads south for a spin through the ring with the latest Georgia throws star.
1) It seems like your season is already off to a great start, with a US #1 58-04.75 indoor weight throw at the Ed Temple Invite in TN.  According to the latest Gourley List, you also have the top weight throw in the country overall, a 59-09.50 reached outdoors in early January?  Can you talk about the difference between the weight throw indoors and the outdoors?  Is it like other events, where competing outdoors gives an advantage, or is it pretty much the same whether you're undercover or out in the open?

The weight, unlike other events, is harder outdoors because you never know what the weather is going to be like; I have thrown in the rain, the bitter cold, wind, snow flurries and even sleet. You don’t know if it is going to rain right when you’re up to throw, which can make it harder to throw, because it can cause the ring to become slick. Throwing indoors is easier because it is a controlled climate and you can stay warm and dry and don’t have to worry about the ring being slick or wet. The weight throw is very different from any other event in the way that you have to practice. You practice more often to get your technique right, and you have to be strong because it is such a heavy implement. I don’t think competing outdoors gives you an advantage in the weight, particularly in the winter.

2) I know you've been very successful across the throws, with national titles in the shot put and international appearances as a hammer thrower, but focusing on the weight throw for a moment, are you able to explain to those who aren't familiar with the finer points of the event...what's going on?  It might look like you're just hurling a heavy ball as far as you can, but there are distinct phases and different techniques, just like any throw.  Can you describe how you move through a throw in the ring, and what you focus on when trying to reach that magic 60-foot (and beyond) mark?

Yes, the weight and the hammer are similar and different at the same time. They are similar in the way you do your turns, different in that the weight is [mostly] thrown indoors and the hammer is thrown outdoors. The weight is a 20lb ball with two links and a handle, and the hammer is a 4k ball on a wire about 3 feet long, with a handle. When I am throwing, I focus on my rhythm.  I do four turns, one of which is a toe, that's my first turn, and three heel turns.  Right now I am trying to work on my finish and my release. When I get those small things adjusted, the weight should go as far as I want it.

3) I know you're part of the highly-decorated Throw-1-Deep club in Georgia; what makes this such a successful team?  Are there things you can point to that make athletes from this one part of the country so successful in the throws on a national level?  With so many of you competing for titles at the big meets, are you still pretty close as a group?

What makes the team so successful is the leadership from the coaching and the more-seasoned athletes on the team.  The work ethic that is displayed by the seasoned athletes on the team helps the new athletes to mature in the sport. We all work hard to get to meets all over the country; we like to complete against the best people so we can make ourselves better. When we compete at the big meets, or any meet, we do help each other out. If someone is struggling on something I will step in to help when Mike Judge, my coach, is not there.  Yes, we are pretty close.  I have two really good friends on the team.

4) There are pockets of the country where the hammer and weight throw are contested at a very high level...Georgia, with the Throw-1-Deep crew...California, with Conor McCullough and the Kraychir family (among others)...Washington State....Rhode Island and New York.  Given the relatively small collection of specialists in these events, do you stay in touch with other throwers around the country?  Check up on their progress on DyeStat, Bob Gourley's lists, etc?  Can you discuss the community of WT/HT in the US high school scene?

Yes, I do stay in touch with some of the throwers.  Some are in college now but I do like to stay in touch and see how they are doing, how training is going and how school is going. I talk to Becky O’Brien a lot; we are like best friends. We got to know each other in Poland this past summer.  I also talk to Anna Jelmini some times, when I can reach her (photo at right of Jelmini, O'Brien and Chambers from 2008 World Junior Champs). I do check Dyestat and Bob Gourley’s list; I get the list sent to me through email. The weight throw and the hammer throw scene is very small, there are not many of us that do it and that’s what make the hammer and weight throwers so close.  We are different from other throwers because there are so few of us.

5) As I've said, you're at least as successful in the shot put, which is more widely contested, as you are in the other throws.  Do you have a favorite implement to throw?  And if so, why?

I don’t really have a favorite.  What I'm doing well in at that time is what I like.  Right now I am doing better in the weight than the shot, so I like to throw the weight at this time.  I guess that can be pretty normal, but I can’t wait to throw hammer this spring.

6) You were fortunate to make an international team last summer, competing for the US in the hammer at the World Junior Championships in Poland .  How was it traveling with the team and wearing the red, white and blue for the USA ?  Judging from the first round results, you didn't have your best day, but what about the overall experience?  Are there particular memories or motivations you brought back home to Georgia from Poland ?

Wearing the USA colors is what I wanted to do for a long time, since I started throwing.  I have always wanted to make an Olympic team, and hopefully I can make the team that goes to Trinidad this summer. The experience was awesome.  I loved it and I got a lot out of the experience.  I feel like I grew up on the trip; I gained a lot of friends from the US team and also other teams. Some of the memories I brought home were how people from other countries train compared to here. My motivation was to train harder, so if I am able to make another team, I will be more prepared to make finals and maybe place instead of watching the finals. 

7) You have a twin brother, Justin, who has been very successful in track as well, but as a sprinter.  Did the two of you get into track and field at the same time? How did one gravitate toward the throws, and one toward the sprints? 

No, Justin and I did not get in to track at the same time. He did it a year before I started, and he made me want to do track. I started out as sprinter, and I was a good sprinter, but at 10 I went to the state Park and Rec meet and I needed another event, so they put me in the shot put.  I found out I was I good in it. I ended up placing at state in the shot put and it just kind of stuck with me.  I don’t like running, and throwing has very little running in it, which I like, but throwing is not as easy as most people think.

8) Are there things you enjoy about being a twin, versus things that are maybe more difficult?  Do you ever challenge Justin to a throwing competition in the backyard or at the end of practice?  If so, who wins?

Being a twin, and both of us doing track, does cause us to have a little competition to see who can get the most records.  I am winning right now.  :)   Yes, we have had throwing competitions and I win all the time.  I mean, he's good, but I still win.  I spot him 5 feet.  We race too, but I will let everyone guess who wins the really short races.


Photos: John Dye (top, at 2008 Simplot Games), Lauren Chambers (bottom, 2008 World Junior Champs)

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