Jarrett Chong likes to go long.
The Port Coquitlam javelin thrower has his sights set on attaining 70 metres sometime this year.
But for it to happen, he says everything has to fall into place physically, technically and mentally.
The sport isn’t as easy as it might seem at first glance, said Chong, a Riverside Secondary School grad now in his third year of studies at Simon Fraser University, but in his first season competing in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC).
Getting the sleek aluminum or carbon fibre javelin down the field as far as possible is the culmination of hours in the gym working on strength and conditioning, as well as two days a week at the track refining technical skills like foot angle and driving his hips along with intense focus to shut out all distractions when his number is called.
When all those elements come together, Chong said, there’s no better feeling.
“Just off the release it feels easy,” he said. “You know you’ve driven it hard.”
Chong’s been getting that feeling a lot this season.
He’s won meets at the University of British Columbia, Stanford and SFU. He recently placed second at the Bryan Clay Invitational in Azusa, Calif., and his best throw as a varsity athlete — 66.83 metres — ranks third in the NCAA Div. II, and 11th all time in the GNAC.
It’s not a bad CV for a thrower who was limited to smaller meets with his club, Royal City Track and Field, for two years because larger competitions and university events were shut down by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Getting back to a level where he feels goals like 70 m, qualifying for the Div. II nationals and turning some heads at the Canada Summer Games and even Canadian nationals, has been a challenge, Chong said.
“The pandemic has forced me to rebuild a lot,” he said, adding he also had to get rid of some bad habits that emerged because of the lack of top competitive situations.
Competing for SFU has given Chong access to a lot more resources to help drive his throwing aspirations forward, like top coaching, ready access to a gym, guidance for things like diet and time management.
Of course, for student–athletes, the flip side of those advantages is fitting training and competing around a demanding course schedule, getting enough sleep and eating properly.
“It’s a bit more difficult to juggle,” Chong said.
To help narrow his focus, he decided to drop shot put and discus, events where he achieved some success tat he high school level in addition to winning two straight championships in his specialty.
Chong said concentrating on one event has helped the development of his technical proficiency and consistency in javelin.
“It does help me focus on one type of foot placement,” he said.
Now 21 years old, Chong said he still has four or five years to go before he hits his javelin stride.
He said most throwers peak when they’re in their mid- to late-20s.
That would put him on target to contend for a position on Canada’s team heading to the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.
It’s doable, he said.
“Every season you have to have a goal, and then the end goal is Olympics or Worlds. You just want to compete in as many high level meets as possible.”