Dylan Armstrong’s Olympic dream started with coach’s comment

You have to wonder about the power of a name. Canadian Olympic hopeful Dylan Armstrong competes in shot put, an event that relies on arm strength.

Likewise, you have to consider the influence of a timely comment from a coach or teacher. Like Perdita Felicien, Armstrong was inspired as a kid to aim for the Olympics because of something a childhood coach said to him.

Active for Life spoke recently with the Kamloops, British Columbia native to learn more about his Olympic inspirations.

What variety of sports did you play as a child?

I’ve been doing track since I was 9 years old, when I first joined the Kamloops Track and Field club. I also really enjoyed football as a kid.

Football taught me a lot of skills about how to work together with a team. I started playing when I was in grade 8, and it was one of my favourite sports.

What kept you wanting to play sports?

My whole community was supportive from the beginning. Kamloops is one of the most sporting communities that I know of. My parents, my friends and my younger brother were great supporters.

My first coach, Ted Pearson, also gave me lots of encouragement. He had been an Irish javelin champion.

I was probably about 10 years old, and he said to me, “You know, if you continue this, you‘re going to make the Olympics one day.”

At ten years old, how does someone know that? I was only 10 years old, but I really wanted to go. That was kind of the start of everything really.

Of your various achievements, which one(s) stand out most for you?

I would say coming fourth in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and coming so close to a medal.  Especially after switching events only two years before that, from hammer throw to shot put. I switched from hammer to shot put when I was 24, so it was quite late.

Other great memories were getting a silver medal in shot put at the World Championships in 2011 in South Korea, and being a Pan Am Games junior gold medalist in hammer throw when I was 17, and a silver medalist when I was 19.

Do you have any advice for children who might dream of going to the Olympics?

I think with hard work and dedication, anything is possible. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that things can’t be done, because anything is possible if you put in the time and effort and work hard.

Do you have any advice for parents looking to get their kids involved in sport? 

I think track and field is a wonderful overall sport. If you end up competing at higher levels, it’s also an excellent way to see the world as you compete against other countries. I have friends all over the world now as a result of competing in so many countries.

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