May 032004
 
Authors: Joelle Milholm

Going into his sophomore year at the University of Northern

Colorado, Drew Loftin took on a new hobby called the hammer throw.

He decided to spend his free time hurling a 16-pound,

softball-sized, metal ball dangling from a 4-foot-long metal

wire.

He liked it.

Loftin, the 6-foot-5 New York native, quickly found he could

make the hammer defy the laws of gravity.

Loftin then transferred to CSU where his skills continued to

elevate.

“CSU had a better track program and a better school program,”

said Loftin of his decision to transfer from UNC. “I also wanted to

change my degree to pre-medicine so I transferred to CSU.”

The adjustment from Division II at UNC to Division I showed

Loftin that he still had a lot to learn.

“Physically he is one of the most talented guys I have ever

coached,” said CSU throwers coach Brian Bedard. “I thought he

looked pretty good at UNC, but he didn’t know what he was

doing.”

Under the wing of Bedard, Loftin started learning the ropes of

the hammer. He redshirted his first year to gain some more

experience and his progress started to show.

In 2003, he was the NCAA runner-up after throwing the hammer 3/4

the distance of a football field, or 232 feet, 10 inches to be

exact.

After four years of becoming one of the top collegiate hammer

throwers in the nation, he has set his sites on a new goal: the

Olympics. Loftin qualified for the U.S. Olympic Team Trials on May

16, 2003, at a meet in Albuquerque, N.M., when he threw the hammer

233-0.

“I always wanted to do it, but I did not know if it was going to

be possible financially,” Loftin said. “But I have been saving up

and it is working out.”

He will now test his talent against the best in the nation on

July 10 and 11 in Sacramento, Calif. There will be 24 throwers in

the field and the top three will go on to the 2004 Olympic games in

Athens, Greece, as long as they meet the Olympic A-qualifying

standards of 253-0. Loftin’s career best is 237-0 to date.

“I think he has a good shot at placing in the top three at the

trials, but it will be a challenge to hit the A-qualifier,” Bedard

said. “He has very good explosiveness, good speed, he is a really

good competitor and he is one of the most physically gifted people

I’ve watched.”

Loftin, who graduated from CSU last year with a degree in sports

medicine, now works at a kidney center in Longmont, but training

always comes first.

“I train every day and schedule work around training,” Loftin

said.

This season Loftin has continued to travel around the nation to

compete in meets, even though he is no longer a Ram. Loftin

recently took the individual hammer throw title at the CSU-hosted

Jack Christiansen Invitational April 24 and 25.

“I compete every weekend in a different tournament to help

prepare for the trials,” Loftin said.

Big summer plans

The possibility of making the U.S. Olympic Team is one of two

events highlighting Loftin’s summer schedule. The other is

marriage. After being engaged for 13 months, Loftin is getting

married June 19 in Florida.

According to Loftin, he will most likely spend the summer in

Florida and focus on his training. As far as the future goes,

Loftin is awaiting acceptance from various physical therapy schools

around the nation.

“If his training goes well, he should do well, but he has a lot

on his plate right now,” Bedard said. “He is trying to get into

grad school, he is moving and will have a new training environment

and he is getting married. You throw those things into the equation

and not having a coach and it is really going to test his focus and

ability.”

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