Shot putters need to be strong -- really strong. At first glance, one might assume the discipline is all natural ability because of the size of these athletes.
But for newly crowned provincial champions Justin Krantz and Taylor Heald, shot put has required a tremendous amount of hard work and dedication.
On Saturday at the University of Manitoba, their hard work placed their names in the record books during the high school track and field championships.
"I can't complain about shot put this weekend, broke the provincial record," said Krantz, who threw 15.77 metres, the previous record being 15.63 metres. "It was a good toss, I was feeling good."
Krantz, 18, goes to Goose Lake High School in Roblin, town of about 2,000 people located five hours northwest of Winnipeg. Krantz started shot put eight years ago and said he made the sport his focus in Grade 10.
That year he earned a silver medal at the high school provincial championships and was approached by University of Manitoba Bisons coach Bruce Pirnie.
"He trains all the best throwers in Manitoba, in university or outside university," said Krantz. "He told me to come to Winnipeg sometime to throw with him, so I started coming and I improved so much."
Krantz would make the five-hour trip to Winnipeg from Roblin with his mother to train with Pirnie on weekends. Since then he has represented Manitoba at several competitions. Last year his personal best was a 14 metres, now it's 16.11 metres.
Krantz said he hopes to qualify for the world juniors next year and will be competing at the North American Indigenous Games this summer in Regina. His high school coach, Cody Stephanow, said his dedication is what makes him a great thrower.
"He's out there every day throwing," said Stephanow. "Right when the snow is gone, he's out there throwing or throwing in the gym."
Heald is a Grade 9 student from Grant Park High School who took up shot put, discus and javelin at the beginning of the school year. Ten months later she is the provincial record holder for junior varsity girls with a throw of 12.16 metres. The previous record was 10.73 metres.
"I didn't throw as far as I wanted, but I set a couple records so I was very happy with it," said Heald, who also won gold in discus with her personal-best throw of 34.90 metres. "I had fun, I enjoyed it and am ready to come back next year."
Heald took up the sport when her high school coach asked her to join the team when he first saw her pick up a shot put and throw it. She has since risen to become the No. 1-ranked youth female (under-17) shot putter in Canada with a personal best of 12.54 metres.
Heald said the feeling of being No. 1 in the province and No. 1 in Canada in the short span hasn't sunk in yet.
"I'm excited to see what will come with more training, excited to see how far I could throw."