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Nanaimo's Ethan Katzberg wins silver in Commonwealth Games hammer

Ethan Katzberg of Nanaimo captured silver in the men’s hammer at the 2022 Commonwealth Games on Saturday with a personal-best throw of 76.36 metres.
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Ethan Katzberg shows his elation after his second-place Commonwealth Games finish in the men’s hammer at Alexander Stadium in Birmingham on Saturday. Alastair Grant, AP

BIRMINGHAM, England — It’s hammer time in the Harbour City.

Ethan Katzberg of Nanaimo won the silver medal Saturday in the men’s hammer at the 2022 Commonwealth Games with a personal-best throw of 76.36 metres.

“I’m over the moon,” said the 20-year-old graduate of John Barsby Secondary, who obliterated his previous personal best of 74.16. “It’s surreal. It hasn’t set in, yet.”

Katzberg got his start in the sport with the Nanaimo Track and Field Club.

“This is what my younger person dreamed of doing. You work very hard and put in all the hours and now, at a moment like this, you get to show the results of all that here,” he said.

“Paris 2024 [next Summer Olympics] is what I am working for.”

What a push he got toward Paris in front of 32,500 fans at Alexander Stadium.

“I didn’t know what to expect in the Commonwealth Games. It was an amazing atmosphere, almost deafening,” said Katzberg, who is coached by Olympic shot-put medallist Dylan Armstrong.

Nick Miller of England took gold with a throw of 76.43 metres and Alexandros Poursanidis of Cyprus the bronze at 73.97 metres.

Five-time defending Canadian champion Adam Keenan of Victoria, fourth in the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, led heading into the final round but faded to fifth place at 72.36, well off his personal best of 77.54.

“This wasn’t the result or competition I was expecting for myself,” said Keenan.

“But I’m proud of Ethan and grateful to have been a part of all this.”

The Canadian hammer battle between the Islanders will be one to watch on the road to Paris 2024. “It’s going to be back-and-forth over the next two years,” said Keenan. Perhaps even longer.

“I’ve come close twice and I can’t walk away from the Commonwealth Games without a medal, so I kind of have to target Melbourne in 2026,” said Keenan.

Of the top-two Canadian hammer throwers being from the Island, Katzberg quipped: “It must be something in the water.”

In the actual water Saturday, there was no silver lining for Olympian Celina Toth of Victoria Boardworks in the women’s 10-metre synchro diving event. Comfortably holding the silver-medal position heading into their final dive and needing only a nominal score to land on the podium, Toth and partner Caeli McKay of Calgary misjudged terribly the synchronization on their last dive to tumble into fifth place in a stunning turn of events which made many in the packed 6,000 crowd at Sandwell Aquatics Centre gasp in disbelief. That left the door open for Australia to take gold and England the silver and bronze.

Bryden Hattie of Victoria Boardworks Club, 2022 NCAA Div. 1 tower bronze medallist with the University of Tennessee Volunteers, placed ninth in the men’s three-metre springboard. Daniel Goodfellow and Jordan Houlden led an English sweep of the medals with Olympic gold medallist Jack Laugher, a three-time Olympic medallist, taking bronze.

More than 50 Island or Island-based athletes are competing in the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games, with 20-year-old cyclist Riley Pickrell of Victoria the last up today in the men’s road race through Wolverhampton and Warwick. The Games, which began July 28, conclude Monday.

Australia led the medals total here late Saturday night with 155, with host England second at 148 and Canada third at 84. New Zealand on 44, Scotland 41 and India with 40 rounded out the top six.

cdheensaw@timescolonist.com