By Brendan Shykora
At his first nationals as a senior athlete, Thomas Nedow made a bet with his brother, Tim Nedow, to see who could best the other in the men’s shotput final.
When day four of the 2018 Canadian Track and Field Championships was all said and done, Tom had won the bet – albeit his brother gave him a five-metre handicap.
“It kind of adds some more fun instead of him just being way ahead of me,” the younger Nedow said of the handicap.
It was the first time the Nedow brothers competed in the same event, Tom having graduated to the senior age group this year. Thomas threw past the 16-metre mark for the first time on his way to a 7th place finals ranking. His brother won gold with a 20.94 m throw, four centimetres short of a personal best of his own.
Tom’s personal best would have been all the more satisfying had he only agreed to higher stakes with his brother. Tim had suggested beforehand that the winner could decide what the other had to wear for a night out.
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“He didn’t want to do it,” Tim laughed. “So I said okay, how about we (have to) get a mohawk or a stupid haircut. He didn’t want to do that either.”
In retrospect, Tim counts himself lucky that the pot wasn’t sweetened.
“He won but he didn’t shake on anything, so I won’t have to do anything,” joked the older Nedow.
He’s been a star field athlete since 2012. Now a 10-time national champion between shotput and discus, the 27-year-old won gold at the 2015 Diamond League in Stockholm, Sweden, and went to the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio.
The two brothers reunited this past year when Tim moved back to the Ottawa area after training around the world. “I was out in BC for two years, and in Sweden for two years, and I just wanted to come home,” he said.
“He’s like one of my coaches,” Tom said of his older brother. Last year Tom decided to take up shotput seriously, and the two trained closely together in Tom’s final high school year.
Tom will head down to Southeastern Louisiana to continue shot putting as a college freshman.
His well-seasoned brother knows he’s got plenty of time to excel in the sport: “he’s only 20 years old, so he has a long time to go.”
Twin sisters come together at nationals
It’s been a trying season for twin sisters Divya and Devyani Biswal, but the two Ottawa Lions proved they still knew how to represent their home town. Divya leaped to a silver medal in the senior women’s triple jump, while Devyani finished 4th in the 100m hurdles.
In a breakout season last year, Divya broke a near 15-year-old Ottawa Lions record in triple jump during a Southern California circuit, and the personal-best triple jump of 13.27 m she set at the Francophone Games ranked 3rd in Canada.
Divya moved to New York City last year to train under premier triple jump coach Leeroy Solomon. But training in a new city has come with difficulties: substandard access to training facilities forced her to train on a treadmill for the entire indoor season. With that setback, Divya came into nationals a step behind her own high expectations of herself.
“I’ve lacked a lot of confidence this year because I didn’t feel I’ve had the best base compared to last year,” she said.
Feeling that her confidence was holding her back, Divya started seeing a sports psychologist in New York. The benefits showed in her post-race reaction at nationals:
“I’m just happy that despite having such a bad year for myself and my own expectations, I’m happy I was just able to perform on the day and come out with a 2nd place finish.”
Meanwhile, Devyani Biswal has had to contend with physical challenges of late. The hurdler had been fighting a hamstring injury for two years before she decided to take time off to fully recover.
“In the past when I’m injured I usually try to train through it, and this time I took about a one-month span where I didn’t run,” she said.
Going fast has always been Devyani’s focus, but slowing down for a while allowed her to regain her top form. “I feel I’m in the best shape of my life so I’m really happy,” she exclaimed. “Fourth in front of my home town is not so bad.”
While a healthy sibling rivalry used to preside between the Biswal sisters, the long distance between them in recent years has softened their relationship.
“My sister and I used to be so competitive with each other,” Divya said. “Now we’re each other’s best friends and supporters. It gives me so much joy when she runs really well.”
Divya Biswal and Tim Nedow both earned spots at the North American, Central American and Caribbean (NACAC) 2018 Track and Field Championships in Toronto in August.