Britney Henry signed with Oiselle last June. She is an elite hammer thrower with big goals and a PB hammer throw of 71.27m. Her next meet is this Friday, April 25, at the Triton Invite in San Clemente, San Diego. Read on to get to know Britney and be sure to follow along with her journey as @HammerLover on Twitter and here at Bird is the Word. We are so excited to cheer her on!
Where do you live and train? Who’s your coach?
I live in Sunny San Diego and have the privilege to train at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista. My main coach is Lance Deal (AR holder in the mens hammer and silver medalist). Art Venagas is the eye and ears for Lance when I am not in Oregon or have sent him video to analyze.
Do you have team to workout with?
Jessica Cosby and Kristin Smith are my training partners. Just like distance running, it is a huge benefit to have training partners. Someone to push you and someone to hold you back, when its needed. I have this tendency to throw hard every practice but over the years and the soft reminders from Jessica and Kristin, I have learned to back off and save my energy for when it counts.
For the distance runners out there, what is the hammer? Actually, more specifically what is *a* hammer?
The best way to describe the hammer: a shot put, on a wire with a handle.
How I throw the hammer: like Thor:) Hollywood has done an amazing job of adding the hammer throw to some big time movies; Thor and 300: Rise of the Empire, just to name a few. But just in case no one has seen those movies, the motion of the hammer is pretty simple. I wind the hammer over my head, similar to lasso. Once I wind it about 3 times, I start to turn with the hammer, using heel-toe footwork to progress through the ring.
The throw is measured when I stay in the circle and it lands in a sector. Just like running, I have to stay in my ring (lane) and it has to land in the sector (no going outside my lane).
Take us back, how did you become a hammer thrower?
As I like to say, the hammer found me. I was attending a local track and field camp during my junior year of high school. Hurdles were my speciality but I wanted to try all the other events. I was standing on the long jump runway, looking over to the adjacent field. I saw this girl wind a ball looking thing around her head, turn a few times and then let it go. Almost immediately I asked the coach what that was. He said it was the hammer and I could try it at the end of camp if I would like. After to first throw I was hooked. I love going fast and I felt like I was flying when I threw the hammer.
I was lucky enough to have an amazing local coach, Arnie Tyler Jr., who coached me once a week. It also helped that the football coach at my high school let me throw the hammer after track practice, as long as I filled in my holes. The rest is history.
High school highlights?
My senior year of High School I broke the Washington State record. 166”10 feet. With that toss, I was invited to attended the Junior Elite Camp at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista. This is where my dream of an Olympian became reality. I am not sure who said it but I remember one of the coaches telling us “You may go on the represent a University or College, but remember your goal is to wear USA on your back one day”. To this day, that quote resonates in my mind.
I attended three Universities during my college career. Southeastern Louisiana University, Louisiana State University and University of Oregon. I hold the school record at LSU and the U of O. I am a 3 time All-American and won the Pac-10 Championships in 2007.
When did you know you wanted to be a professional hammer thrower? When did you know you had it?
This goes back to that faithful day at the OTC; my dream became a reality. It also helped that through my years of throwing during college, my ranking kept getting higher and the reality of reaching my goal gets closer and closer. You’re just coming off the off season and the pre-season training.
For distance running off season means packing on a little weight and lazing around. And pre-season, building a mileage base ... what’s it like for hammer?
Off season for me is about 3 months of no throwing and just being a “normal” person. I still am trying to figure out the whole normal part, but normal for me is working and traveling to see friends and family. This pre-season is one for the books; I have finally gained body weight. I have been working on this for years, obviously not the right way but I did it. My lifting program is geared towards gaining muscle mass, I increased my food intake and I added some more protein shake to my diet. In October, beginning of pre season, I weighted 153lbs. Today, I weight 167lbs. My goal is to hit 170lbs by the time I throw at the Oregon Preview. Just a few more In and Out trips and I should hit my goal.
Gaining body weight this year was a focus due to the fact that I am a smaller thrower and the more mass I have, the less perfect I have to be with my technique in the ring. It is also a mental block that I am pushing through. My natural I am a perfectionist and by gaining weight and let “the perfect throw” go in my mind, a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I don't have to be perfect to throw far, just pretty damn close:)
What does the typical day in the life of Britney Henry look like?
My life is pretty boring but I do make time to be social. A typical day starts with my morning trip to Starbucks for the drive down to the center. From my house to the center takes about 30 minutes. I train for about 5 hours then take a quick shower, grab some lunch then drive back up to downtown SD to my work. I work for about 5 hours head home for dinner, then its off to dreamland to do it all over again the next day.
When I have free time, I can either find me at the beach or with my family and friends.
What’s up this season? When’s your first meet? What is the big goal game plan?
This season is all about building on last season and letting go. I had a great training season last year but was unable to put it into a meet. This year my goal is to relax during the meet and just let the throw happen. My first meet will be the Oregon Preview. Cant wait to throw my hammer. After training for 6 months, it will be nice to be in a meet atmosphere and feel the meet energy. Big goal is to be consistent with my throws this year and to have a PR!
Big picture, where will we see Britney Henry in 3 years?
3 years from now my ideal situation would to have found Mr. Right and be planning for the next chapter in my life...with or without hammer. But like I said to my training partner the other day, anytime you make a plan be sure to be ready for it to explode.
I just want to be happy and healthy. No matter where I am at in life, I want to make sure that I am happy with all the decisions that I have made and that I am healthy to tackle the next chapter.
Favorite pump up song?
I do not have one particular song but anything that has a good dance beat. Right now, I would probably listen to Timber by Flo Rida and Keesha.
Favorite movie, first your best impression answer, then your real answer (guilty pleasure)?
Fight Club...gotta get out of your mind to do big things. My go to movie on a sleepless night would be The Hangover. Love to laugh:)
TV show addiction?
Any reality show...I know, I know totally bad but I love it.
Imagine the hammer had never been invented (gasp!) what would you be doing in this alternate universe?
Humm, this a hard one to answer. I have some many ideas but if I would have stuck to my first dream, I would be floating around in space. I fell in love with space when I was a little kid. Any time that I was awake and it is dark enough out, I would lay in the back yard and just stare into space; dreaming about what is out there. I still do this and think until my brain hurts and I have to come back inside.
When you’re not training, where would we find you?
When I am not spinning in cirlces, you can find me at the beach or just chilling at home watching TV. Anything that doesn't require a ton of energy. I also volunteer at Rady’s Children's Hospital. As I like to say, I pass out smilies. About once a month, I visit the hospital with my hammer and a wagon full of stuffed animals.
Cheat day indulgence?
Ice cream! Love it but not all the time.
life long water lover
Cat or dog? Dog
Summer or winter? Summer
Ocean or mountains? Damn love them both...
Roller coaster or lazy river? Again love them both but I love the water so lazy river
Night owl or early bird? Night owl
Sweet or salty? Salty
Coachella or SXSW? Coachella
Beatles or Rolling Stones? Rolling Stones
Britney's Upcoming Meets
4/25 Triton Invite, San Diego
5/9 Oregon Twilight, San Diego
5/24 Tucson Elite, Arizona