Max Laur swapped his hockey stick for a javelin several years ago and hasn’t looked back.
“It is a testament, especially in this area, for boys to quit hockey,” said Laur’s long-time coach Maggie Mullen. “He wanted to focus on throwing and he has had his eye on the prize for a long time.”
Ditching the skates paid off: the 18-year-old St. Patrick’s Catholic High School student has earned a scholarship to Central Arkansas University. When he arrives on campus this summer, Laur will focus on the throwing disciplines, including shot put, javelin and his specialty: the 16-pound hammer.
Hammer-throw involves a 119.5 centimetre length of wire with a steel ball on one end and a handle on the other. The athlete spins the hammer overhead before making three or four revolutions inside a two-metre circle and then letting go.
“It’s different… hammer is like a fast, quick-turning throw,” said Laur, who has a personal best distance of 42 metres. “And the release of the hammer feels really nice. It feels nice on the hands.”
Laur began nailing the precise, heel-to-toe footwork about two years ago, his coach said. Success came largely because of his discipline and coachability, said Mullen.
“Max is a special athlete. If you tell him to go home and do (drills)… you know he’s going to do them, and he has been doing them.”
At the 2019 Nationals, Laur finished 5th in discus, 7th in shot put and 10th in hammer.
Mullen helped Laur discover the sport. As a substitute teacher in his Grade 7 class she brought a javelin to show the students. He was hooked.
A former Ohio State thrower herself, Mullen coached Laur at both St. Pat’s and the Sarnia Athletics Southwest track and field team. He started with a 6-kg hammer in Grade 9 and began competing the following year. That’s when he hung up the skates.
“The first year of hammer is always the difficult one,” she said. “Just getting used to spinning around with a very large object, a very hard object, makes it a little nerve wracking.”
Laur said he plans to study physiotherapy and sports psychology at Central Arkansas. Depending on his results, he could have the partial scholarship expand to a full-ride, he said.
His goal has always been to earn a scholarship to pay for a university education. But if an opportunity to represent Canada came along, he would jump at the chance “one hundred percent,” he said.