Olympian Dylan Armstrong demonstrated his shot put throwing technique at Ship Point on Tuesday ahead of the Victoria International Track Classic at UVic's Centennial Stadium

Track Classic brings best to Victoria

Standing on Ship Point, Olympic shot putter Dylan Armstrong wielded a honeydew, the seldom-used weapon of choice

Standing on Ship Point, Olympic shot putter Dylan Armstrong took a minute to explain the basic elements of his throwing techniques on Tuesday, with a honeydew.

The green melon launched high over the pier in a demonstration of fruit catastrophe as Armstrong pitched them about 15 metres along the pier.

It was part of a preview of Friday’s Victoria International Track Classic, 6 p.m. at UVic’s Centennial Stadium.

“It’s a lot lighter than I thought, I have to take it easy not to hurt myself,” said the Kamloops resident.

Armstrong is in line to receive the 2008 Beijing Games bronze medal due to the recently announced lifetime ban of Belarus thrower Andrei Mikhnevich for doping. It will come with much less fanfare than having won it originally, and it will be Canada’s first medal in the shot put.

Armstrong is one of many elite track and field athletes attending the Victoria Track Classic, the final stop of the National Track League.

“I love coming to Victoria, it’s a great place and great event,” Armstrong said. “There’s not much money in this so I have to hit as many events as I can.”

There are few track and field athletes as busy as Armstrong, as he departed Tuesday for the Diamond League event in Lausanne, Switzerland, on Thursday. He’ll rely on the time difference to make it back to Victoria for tonight’s Track Classic.

“He just rolls with the punches,” said race co-organizer Keith Butler. “Not every track and field athlete can spend as much time on the plane, and sleep on the plane as easily as he does.”

Armstrong trains with Canada’s throwing program in Kamloops under coach Dr. Anatoliy Bodnarchuk, and which includes up-and-coming athletes Adam Keenan (hammer) and Mason Kereszti (javelin), both from Lambrick Park secondary school.

“It’s a difficult transition for the young guys moving from junior to senior, but we’re on track for major success with our throwing program (in Kamloops),” Armstrong said.

Keenan and Kerestzi will be competing Friday, part of a strong local contingent.

Rachel Francois (inset photo) is one of 16 UVic Vikes competing. She’s looking to run her personal best in the 800-metre for the third-straight year at the Track Classic.

“This is the second stop of my season arc and I’m hoping to hit another personal best. This track is good luck for me,” she said.

Francois ran a disappointing 600m time at the national championships two weeks ago. An injury earlier this season slowed her training and has forced her to miss out on qualifying for the IAAF World Championships in Moscow, Russia, from Aug. 10 to 18, and the 2013 Summer Universiade games in Kazan, Russia, July 6 to 17.

Instead she’s refocused her efforts on the Victoria Track Classic, where she’ll run shoulder to shoulder with Canada’s best middle distance runners, including 39-year-old Dianne Cummins, still thriving in the 800m.

“It’s a deep field and I love racing in deep fields, it helps pull you along and pull you out of your comfort zone,” Francois said.

Tickets for the event are available at the door.

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