Smith Sisters Hammer Away at Rewarding Track Careers

By at May 12, 2012 | 9:15 am | Print

Twin sisters Athalia and Chantaul Smith rewrote the New Britain High track and field record book in the throwing events.

Now they’re doing the same throwing the hammer as their senior season winds down at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield.

In Athalia’s most recent competition Saturday in Emmitsburg, Md., she won the Northeast Conference title with a throw of 57.33 meters (188 feet, 1 inch).

She recently was named the Northeast Conference Women’s Field Athlete of the Week by winning the hammer throw at the UConn Women’s Invitational March 31 with the best performance by a thrower in the Northeast Conference thus far.

Her winning toss of 56.82 meters (186 feet, 5 inches) was good for 15th in the NCAA East Region.

Athalia’s had a productive spring after a strong season indoors. Her toss of 60.12 meters gave her first place at the Rider Invitational April 14. Chantaul tossed the shot a personal best 13.09 meters to take third at the event.

“One of the biggest goals of every hammer thrower is to break 60,” Athalia said. “It’s a milestone.”

At the Yale Invitational two weeks later, Athalia took first in the hammer with a 55.30 while Chantaul was third at 48.29. Athalia was sixth in the shot put with 12.51 and Chantaul seventh with a 12.26.

On April 20, at the Princeton Larry Ellis Invitational, Athalia was fourth in the hammer at 59.19 and Chantaul was 18th at 50.03. In the shot put, Athalia (12.50) was 16th and Chantaul (12.29) 18th.

Athalia was 11th at the Penn Relays hammer competition with a 54-meter effort April 26.

As her college career winds down, Athalia’s goal is to make the NCAA National Championships.

“I’m ranked sixth in the region and the top 12 go to Nationals,” said Athalia, whose brother Darius started seven games at defensive tackle at the University of Miami last fall. “Every year I’ve had a good standing and a chance but every year I’ve fallen short. If I do what I know I can do, I can place high or even win the Regionals. I definitely want to make it to the Nationals.”

While the standings usually show Athalia ahead of Chantaul, the girls work together for each other’s betterment.

“It’s completely balanced because in the classroom, it’s always Chantaul then Athalia,” Athalia said. “She’s always excelled in the classroom but she’s progressed so much as an athlete and it’s beautiful to see her growth. Her numbers steadily increase and so does her confidence. She pushes me to do better. We have a good relationship.”

Athalia credits NBHS track and field coach Darwin Shaw for what they’ve accomplished athletically and subsequently in the classroom.

“Coach Darwin told us about the hammer,” Athalia said. “He’s the reason for my career. We didn’t even know they had throwing events when we were freshmen. He stopped us in school and asked if we’d come out for the team. I said no, that I didn’t want to run. He asked me to trust him. If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t have accomplished what I have.”

While Athalia has always dreamed of competing in the Olympics for the USA, her heritage would enable her to vie for a slot on the Jamaican national team.

“My mother was born and raised there,” Athalia said. “Only one girl from there has thrown better than me so I would have the second position but I would have to have started a year ago to have my dual citizenship in place. I’m late on that but in the future, I’ll be on the Jamaican team.”

As seniors at New Britain High, Athalia won the 2008 hammer throw with a toss of 41.99 while Chantaul was fourth at 31.10. Athalia was second in the shot put at both the State Open and the Class LL Championships. Chantaul took second in ‘LL’ and seventh at the Open.

As a junior, Athalia won the ‘LL’ shot put competition and was second in the Open. Chantaul was second in ‘LL’ and third at the Open. Athalia was sixth in the hammer throw as a junior.

Their time at NBHS has instilled a deep satisfaction in hailing from the city and Athalia hopes her success will inspire future athletes to work hard on fulfilling their potential.

“New Britain is always on my mind,” Athalia said. “It’s such a pride and joy being from New Britain.

“Everyone who has success wants to be a shining light to show others that anything is possible. Coming from New Britain, some feel that high school is the max. They don’t think they can go past that. I hope my story can shine a light so they can surpass that.”


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