Danniel Thomas-Dodd in the shot put at the IAAF World Indoor Championships Birmingham 2018 (© Getty Images)
Rising shot put star Danniel Thomas-Dodd has enjoyed an outstanding year so far winning the world indoor silver medal and the Commonwealth title. The Jamaican shares her passion for throwing and why she does what she does.
“Before I started in track and field, I was a netball player. I started out playing as a centre, which gave me good speed and agility. But after a coach saw me win the sprints at a school sports at Frome Technical High School he suggested I should join the track and field team. I was aged 13 at the time and very hesitant because my heart was in netball. But I decided to commit to athletics. I was quite a good sprinter at that time for my age-group, but after a year I picked up a groin injury, which meant I could no longer sprint. Instead my coach at the time, Rodrick Myles, asked me if I fancied throwing the discus. Ever since that moment I have been a thrower, although I didn’t start throwing shot put until two years later.
“I received a scholarship to Kent State University in Ohio on the back of my discus throwing, but because the winters are so harsh with months of snow, I spent very little time training outdoors and it was during my freshman year while training indoors I started to focus more on the shot put. I would say that is when my passion developed.
“I may have had a lot of expectations in the discus, but I quickly found I was enjoying better results in the shot. That is the moment I thought, ‘I think I can do this’. During my freshman year at college at a NCAA regional meeting is when I would say I first learned to love the shot.
“The main reason I love the shot, is because of the technical nature of an event. I’m a rotational thrower and although I’m not saying the glide is not technical, there is so much more to the spin. The biggest challenge I faced when moving to rotational throwing was learning to control the speed, which was tricky as a former sprinter. It took some time to master.
“Another reason I enjoy the challenge so much is because I was one of the first female rotational shot putters. This was exciting, as I adopted the model from my second high school coach, Marlon Gayle, who taught me so much and gave me stacked piles of articles to read about the rotational technique. I recall looking at the technique of throwers such as Reese Hoffa (the 2007 World champion) and Christian Cantwell (the 2009 World champion) and I learned from them because back then they were few female rotational throwers. Ultimately, I love the fact that when I’m in the circle I don’t have to worry about anybody other than myself.
“Throwing the shot to an international standard has also given me the chance to travel the world and learn about different cultures. This has given me a whole different perspective on life and I am very grateful for the opportunities the sport, and throwing the shot, has presented to me.”
Steve Landells for the IAAF