Olympic shot put finalist Portious Warren, 25, is excited to test her modified technique for the 2022 track and field season.
The US-based Trinidad and Tobago athlete told Newsday she is adapting nicely and the results will soon show.
“Training has been going really well, especially when it is I look at where it is I’m usually at during the indoor season compared to the past years. We’re in front," she said.
Warren said she is reverting to the glide while incorporating some elements from the step-back technique.
“We did change back my technique because I realised the step-back made me complacent in certain areas and there were just some issues that started to appear that were being problematic.
“We want to use some of those strengths from the step-back as well. But with the changes, I’m still seeing the distance (from throws). As soon as all the pieces come together, it’s going to be great – a good season.”
Warren trains at her alma mater, University of Alabama (UA), with throws coach Derek Yush. She said she enjoys working with Yush because he places a lot of emphasis on the mental side of the athlete.
At the Tokyo Games last year, Warren, on Olympic debut, placed a credible 11th using the step-back technique.
In the final, Warren launched the iron sphere a distance of 18.32 metres on her third attempt. Her two prior attempts saw her achieve 18.01m on both occasions.
Warren, a past student of St Augustine Secondary School, moved to Central Arizona College (junior) in 2015. She transferred to UA in 2017, where she graduated with her second degree in consumer science and consumer affairs, three years later. Warren had initially planned to pursue her master's but the covid19 pandemic changed her mind.
Although many athletes shy away from attending junior college, Warren believes this path was crucial to her athletic and academic development.
“In order for me to be successful I needed to take that route (junior college), to gain that experience, knowledge and different perspective of how it really is like to be a full-life student-athlete – having to go to classes and keep up a certain GPA (grade point average).
“I was a bookworm but it really helped me put things into perspective and prepared me for that next level at Alabama.”
For 2022, Warren intends to make a competitive return at the Florida Relays in early April. She has not competed since the Olympic Games.
“One of my major goals this year is to end up on a podium; I don’t know which one, but definitely a podium spot. In the past, I set a specific distance for myself to achieve before the end of the season.
“I don’t do that any more because it places limitations on you. I don’t want to end a season by achieving a fixed distance. I want to end the season breaking the (world) record.
“I know I’m capable of so much more. I know when all the pieces come together, what it is I can do is probably beyond what it is I can do. So my major goal this year is to get on the podium and love it again.”
In 2014, Warren won shot put gold (14.47m) at the Central American and Caribbean Junior Championships and bronze (12.70m) at the Carifta Games.
Two years later, she threw the sphere another golden distance of 15.22m at the Carifta U-20 Championships. She earned silver (17.82m) in 2019 at the Universiade in Italy. Leading up the Olympics, she bagged gold at a Louisiana State University meet in the US.
Her improvements continued with her personal best of 18.75m in the Olympic qualifying round.
Recently, the Alabama-based field athlete received her first tranche of elite athlete assistance funding from the TT government.
Warren said, “As soon as I came back from the Olympics, me and my business manager made it our duty to get everything sent in. All of the necessary documents were sent in by the end of September.
“So the funding we applied for in October, we received it like last week I believe, at their cheque distribution. I’m thankful for the help from the government. It gave me some much-needed financial relief.”
Warren said a positive mindset is necessary for athletes.
“I don’t give myself credit for the ability and things I can do. It comes from self-analysing and realising the ability I do possess, and if given the right attention, there is no limit to what I think I can do.
“You can always say, ‘I can’t do this and I can’t do that,’ but what if it is you could, but because your mind-set was so adamant on the difficulties you have to face to get to where it is you want to be, you just shun away.
“The main reason I feel motivated and want to carry on is because I know there’s a lot more to me. Day by day I find that out and learn a different version of myself.”