When you finish second in the country it's certainly something to be proud of.
But after taking runner-up honors to teammate Adam Kelly in the hammer competition at the New Balance Nationals Outdoor (NBNO) Championship in mid-June, Bobby Colantonio couldn’t wait to leave North Carolina and go home.
Ranked No. 1 in the nation prior to NBNO, the Barrington High (RI) junior expected better.
“Every meet, whether you win or lose, is a learning experience,” Colantonio said. “Adam won New Balance. He deserved it and I was happy for him. He went to practice and he pushed it. He went there and he just threw a PR. There is not much else you can do. (For me) it was just a lot of things I did technically and a little mentally. After that meet, I was beside myself.”
Judging by his performances inside the circle the next week and a half following the New Balance meet, it’s obvious that runner-up placement at NBNO lit a flame. It’s one that the Eagle standout is hoping will continue to burn throughout the summer months.
In a successful four-day stretch, Colantonio captured three major competitions, victories that included several meet records and a ticket to the IAAF World Youth Championships next week (July 15-19) in Cali, Columbia.
Colantonio’s recent hot streak began just six days after NBNO on June 28 where he defeated Kelly at the USATF Junior Nationals in Eugene, Oregon with a state and New England record of 232 feet, five inches for the six-kilogram hammer.
“I went there and I was a little nervous. This was the biggest meet of my life. Even bigger than New Balance Nationals,” Colantonio said. “On my first throw, I hit 232. That kind of made my day. It was a PR, number one in the country and was a meet and New England record. The only thing I wasn’t happy with is I didn’t do better than that throw. I was kind of a little too worried about bettering it and didn’t focus on my technique.”
The Barrington thrower admitted his performance at NBNO the previous weekend was a motivating factor. At the nationals, he was a little more than seven feet short of his nation-leading 243-7 effort done earlier in the season.
“My warmups were good. I had one that completely blew by 70 meters. That’s what disturbed me. I wanted to do that again. It was just a lot of things I did technically and a little mentally,” he said. “After that meet I had the fire to push myself in practice. I wanted to do well at Junior Nationals.”
From Oregon, Colantonio took a flight to Illinois where he competed in back-to-back meets at Benedictine University. His first, the World Youth Trials on June 30, proved to be the most important. In that event, he earned his ticket to Columbia for the World Youth Games with a winning toss of 234-2 for the international 5 kg. hammer. A day later, on July 1, it was the USATF Youth Outdoor Championships where he won easily with a modest toss of 224-2, more than 13 feet further than the second-place finisher.
At both the World Youth and USATF meets, Colantonio admitted fatigue altered his performance, but he still won convincingly. Due to his busy schedule during the stretch, he was only able to train one day.
“I think that’s why I wasn’t able to throw as far,” he said. “I wasn’t in a groove. I didn’t have the training.”
Colantonio goes to the World Youth Games ranked No. 4 in the world for the international (age 17 and under) hammer. That’s based on his throw of 256-4 (78 meters) at the International Implement Meet at Conley Stadium on May 9. All three athletes ahead of the Barrington star will be in Columbia. Hlib Piskunov of Ukraine holds the top spot with a distance of 277.43 (84.56m). Ukraine’s Mykhaylo Havrylyuk is No. 2 at 257.81 (78.58m) and Ned Weatherly of Australia is ranked No. 3 at 256.76 (78.26m).
Colantonio will arrive in Cali on Thursday along with the rest of his 48 World Youth teammates. He’s spent his time since his last victory in Illinois training under veteran weight coach Thaddeus Sligh.
While a high placement is his goal, he’s specifically eyeing the national mark of 263-9 by Conor McCullough, a toss that would surpass the 80-meter mark.
Even though he fell far short of McCullough’s record at the World Youth Trials, he knows it’s a mark that is attainable with the right kind of day.
“The World Youth I definitely had a flame under my rear end. I definitely had 80-82 meters on my mind. I wanted to break Conor’s record,” he said. “That is something that is well within reach. I realized my mistakes (at the Trials) and what I have done so when I go there I know what I have to do.”
Colantonio is looking forward to competing with the best athletes in the world at Olimpico Pascual Guerrero Stadium.
“Just going there is amazing,” he said. “I can’t wait to go there and wear USA. Obviously my goal is to bring home the gold. The more I can focus on my technique, the more I can move the tape.”
The World Youth Games is not the only high-level meet that Colantonio will be competing at this summer. He’ll also be heading to Florida for the National Junior Olympic Outdoor Track & Field Championships, held July 27-Aug. 2. He’s then off to Canada with teammate Adam Kelly for the Pan Am Games, held Aug. 7-15.