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Nick Ponzio Is Bringing More Eyes To The Shot Put With His Social Media Personality, Backing It Up At Worlds

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“It’s almost criminal these days how little the shot put gets coverage-wise. You can say it’s arguably the best it’s ever been all-time…What I’m trying to do is to bring people to watch and think that guy is not only really good at what he’s doing but looks really good doing it…I also think that shot putters – when it comes to the people that I’ve met around the world – are some of the best personalities. I think we have some of the funniest guys out there.”

Nick Ponzio is a shot putter who represents Italy on the global championship stage. He just took seventh at the World Indoor Championships. He is an electric follow on Instagram – @chubbydiamonds on there. He just recently threw a 21.83m personal best at the European Winter Throws Cup to open his outdoor season. He is originally from San Diego, grew up in Temecula, went to the University of Florida before transferring to USC. He also spent some time training post-collegiately in Arizona with Ryan Whiting but is now based in Nashville and coaching at Belmont. We go through his career trajectory up until this point,  talk about his decision to compete for Italy, examine the depth of U.S. shot put, what he hopes to see improved around the coverage of the throws and much more.

Catch the latest episode of the podcast on Apple Podcasts. We are also on Stitcher, Google Play and Spotify.


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SHOW NOTES AND NOTABLE QUOTES

On his thoughts on the shot put and throws media coverage:

“It’s almost criminal these days how little the shot put gets coverage-wise. You can say it’s arguably the best it’s ever been all-time. Every time there’s a major competition like the U.S. Olympic Trials, the World Indoor Championships or the Olympic Games, it’s like ‘Oh my gosh! These are the best performances of all time in any competition at that level.’ Right now, to not have the shot put as the center of attention event is almost criminal.”

“What I’m trying to do is to bring people to watch and think that guy is not only really good at what he’s doing but looks really good doing it…I also think that shot putters – when it comes to the people that I’ve met around the world – are some of the best personalities. I think we have some of the funniest guys out there…I’d love to see more people follow suit in doing what I’m doing.”

On making a career in the throws:

“When I first came out of college and signed with Velasaa in 2018, I moved to Arizona to throw professionally. It was still ‘throw professionally’ because I was working full-time. I was working 40-hour weeks. I was a manager at a Vitamin Shoppe….No matter how much I worked, I understood that I was still trying to make it. At one point I was doing something for Walshot and a few other things on the side. I was trying to make ends meet to be able to afford this and do what I do now. I was working a lot of hours but I always knew this is where I wanted to be: in a position where I could financially support myself. I kept working really, really hard. 

I remember there was one defining moment when I was training in Arizona when I decided to take a few days off. I was in a really tough spot mentally and physically. That Monday came around and I threw a massive training PB. I thought, ‘Oh my gosh! If I could be mentally and physically dedicated to that, I could really throw what I want to and surpass my goals and expectations.’ At the end of the 2019 season, I threw the world standard but I wasn’t able to get my Italian citizenship at the time. I didn’t have enough for it. It was one of those things where the Italian federation wasn’t playing ball as much and it was a difficult time. I completely understood. As I threw that world standard, I understood I could be one of the top guys. I went into the 2020 season and quit that job so I basically was going to go full board. I could support myself basically for a year if I didn’t work at all. I made some money overseas in 2019 when I went and competed in Europe. I decided I was going to dive into the deep end. Sometimes in life, I don’t think enough people take that chance to wade out there in the deep water. I fully committed to it and worked harder than I ever had. Truly, it was one of those things where nose to the grindstone, I had nothing to lose. That indoor season I finally threw 21 meters and then COVID struck of course…

That kind of swayed a lot of people from not competing but I hit the ground running. I’m not going to stop. I’m too close. I kept training very hard alone for months. I trained in Arizona outside for six or seven hours a day when it was 100 to 120 degrees. It was the dog days. Long story short, by the end of that 2020 season, I threw 21.72 and won the Rome Diamond League. I finished that season top 5 in the world – I was 4th. I was finally breaking through. 

On getting in the medal conversation with the likes of Ryan Crouser, Joe Kovacs and Tom Walsh:

“I mentally have already gotten into a space where I already feel like I am in the mix. Once that first 22m throw happens – it’s kind of happened like that in my life with other goals that I’ve had. Once I achieve them, the floodgates open. That wall just breaks down and a tidal wave goes. Once that happens, I will be much more of a consummate professional where you’re throwing big all the time. Being able to do that and having that consistency around 22m is going to lead to something very special. I’ve always said that no matter what level you’re at, whether you’re a kid first starting out with a 6 lb. shot put all the way up to our league, if you are really consistent at a certain spot then you have something really big coming. For me, it’s been that way. I’ve been in the 21-high and I think there’s a really big one coming.”

“I’d love to get in a really perfect situation where maybe I have a meet stateside that I don’t have to travel very far for. Maybe it’s a ring that I really enjoy. I think I can really hammer one. That’s happened a few times when I lived in Arizona.”

“I try my best to rise to the occasion, especially at bigger meets and national championships in Italy. That also breeds really good performances. If I can line something up with my training and programming where I can periodize to getting to a really big peak, I think something special can really happen in Eugene. Ultimately, as a pro shot putter, all of us are trying to be our best then. That would be a dream come true.”

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