‘That’s my daughter’: Canada’s Camryn Rogers thriving at athletics worlds with mom’s support


Just minutes before the women’s hammer throw event began at historic Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore., Friday afternoon at the world championships, Shari Rogers unfurled a Canadian flag and reached for her necklace.

Not far away in the infield was Shari’s daughter, Camryn Rogers, preparing for her first throw at the world championships.

Shari did what she always does as her daughter took to the throwing circle — put her head down and clutched the necklace her daughter gave her 16 years earlier.

“When she’s competing I look away. I have this necklace. She gave me this necklace many, many years ago. It’s a mom and a child,” Shari told CBC Sports.

“I always hold it and hope she can feel my energy. She was probably seven when she gave it to me. I’m with her. But my stomach’s in knots when I’m watching. Like I’m the one doing it. And then I go, hang on, it’s not me doing it.”

Camryn, like she has some many times throughout her young career, delivered.

The 23-year-old from Richmond, B.C., fired her first throw ever at a world championships — a distance of 73.67m — and automatically qualified for the final on Sunday.

WATCH | Camryn Rogers qualifies for hammer-throw final on Day 1 of worlds:

B.C.’s Camryn Rogers makes women’s hammer throw final at World Athletics Championships

Camryn Rogers of Surrey, B.C. qualified for the women’s hammer throw final with her first attempt of 73.67 metres at the 2022 World Athletics Championships in Eugene, Ore.

“Consistency is key, especially in big competitions. It feels good to get the job done and to be preparing for Sunday,” Camryn told CBC Sports after her throw.

“It means the world that my mom is here. She wanted to come to Tokyo. To have her here in the crowd and see her when I walk into the cage means the world to me. I love her so much.”

Shari, who didn’t watch the throw but heard the reaction of her fiancé and friends around her in the stands, then celebrated.

“When I watch her I’m like, wow, that’s my daughter,” she said.

“She feels good about worlds. I think it’ll be her summer but I don’t think it’ll be her only summer. She’s fired up. I’m fired up.”

WATCH | Camryn Rogers took an unlikely road to becoming a hammer throw superstar:

Camryn Rogers took an unlikely road to becoming a hammer throw superstar

Hammer throw was Canadian Camryn Rogers’ first sport, and now at 23, she’s one of the best in the world.

‘She’s my mom, she’s my best friend’

The two have always been there for each other, enduring some challenging times over the years.

When Camryn was three, Shari and her husband divorced. It was then that her and Camryn began taking on the world together.

“We have a tight relationship. For many years it was just her and I. Many struggles along the way. A lot of hardships,” Shari said.

“She’s a strong woman. She’s resilient. And I’ve had to be resilient in a lot of situations too.”

Shari Rogers, seen above at the 2022 Canadian Track and Field Championships in Langley, B.C. in June, poses with the necklace her daughter Camryn gave her 16 years ago. (Devin Heroux/CBC Sports)

Camryn was watching the way her mom carried herself. She says Shari has always been passionate about living every moment to its fullest, something she brings into every competition today.

“My mom is my everything. She and I have been through everything together. It’s hard to put into words. There is nobody in my life who is more resilient and driven and focused,” Camryn said.

“I have her to thank for making me who I am. We’ve been through the toughest times and best times. She’s my mom, she’s my best friend. She is the core of my support.”

Growing up, Camryn didn’t play any sports. She attended community centres and day camps but says she had no athleticism at all.

Shari, who is a hairdresser, had a client who was part of the local track club. They had told Shari that Camryn should come try it out sometime.

I remember thinking ‘wow, I wonder if I can do that one day.’ I was so inspired by the women.– Camryn Rogers after watching hammer throw at the London Olympics

Camryn was skeptical at first but has never forgotten the first time she went.

“It was so random and so sudden. January 5th, 2012. I always remember it. 15 minutes before the start of the first practice of the new year. I just decided I should go. There was no way of knowing until you did it,” Camryn said.

“I threw two metres and my coach told me I think we can work with that. That was my very first time discovering hammer throw. It was completely random.”

Camryn was a natural

Just a month later, after discovering hammer throw, the London Olympics took place. Camryn was mesmerized by the competitors — especially the women.

“I remember thinking ‘wow, I wonder if I can do that one day.’ I was so inspired by the women. How powerful they were and how incredible they looked when they were throwing,” Camryn said.

“I just couldn’t help but think about what that process could look like for me. I was 12 and just getting into the sport. It was the first moment I felt extremely motivated.”

Five years after that, Camryn was a high school champion in B.C., and was being recruited by American universities.

She was a natural. Her mom knew it. And so did coaches across the United States who were trying to convince her to come to their school.

“She was being watched. She had been recruited by a few schools. They wanted her. The University of Minnesota was hot on her,” Shari recalls.

“She ended up setting up four official visits. Minnesota. California. Arizona and Penn State. California was the second one. They made her an offer and she felt like that it was a fit. She cancelled the last two visits. Down she went in August of 2017 and the rest is history.”

Shari Rogers displays a Canadian flag from the stands at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore., during the 2022 World Athletics Championships. (Devin Heroux/CBC Sports)

Since joining the University of California, Camryn has not only had remarkable success in her sport but also in her studies.

She’s won three NCAA hammer throw titles. She holds the NCAA hammer record, posting a throw of 77.67m in June to win the title again.

But she’s also finished two degrees over the last five years as well, something her mom is equally proud of.

“She never questions what she needs to do. She does what it takes. She never complains,” Shari said.

“I like the fierceness. And focus. She does what it takes.”

Camryn competed at her first Olympics last summer in Tokyo. She placed fifth, just missing the podium and becoming the first Canadian woman to win a medal in the event.

While the experience was memorable, not having her mom there as they didn’t allow fans to attend, was disappointing.

It’s only fuelled her desire to reach the podium at worlds in Eugene, this time with her mom in the stands.

And Shari will be cheering throughout Sunday’s final — waving her flag, holding her necklace, and supporting her daughter like she has every big moment throughout Camryn’s life.

“You’re forced into these situations where you’re going to sink or swim. And we swam. I rose up. She saw that. And now she’s doing that,” Shari said.

“This is the way things are. We have to deal with it. Doesn’t mean we have to like it but we have to keep moving forward.”

For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.

(CBC)



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