Big throw lands Saldutto at worlds
By Bernie Puchalski - August 17, 2021
Callan Saldutto was having an up-and-down season in his first year of being a full-ride scholarship athlete at the University of Louisiana Monroe when he arrived at the prestigious Texas Relays in late March in Austin, Texas.
“I won the B group with a huge PB (personal best) of 69.46 metres in javelin,” the 19-year-old Welland native said. “My old PB was 61 something.”
Not content with that personal best, the Notre Dame graduate one-upped himself in mid-May at the Sunbelt Conference championships in Mobile, Ala.
“I PBed again. I threw 69.88 and I got second there. That was another big one.”
The throw garnered the four-time Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations medalist not only a sliver medal but it also surpassed the 69.5-metre standard required for Saldutto to attend the 2021 World Athletics U20 Championships.
“I knew I had hit the standard,” he said, adding he didn’t take anything for granted. “The team was just selected a few days ago and that’s when I knew officially that I was on the team.”
He received the excellent news by email.
“I was definitely very excited about that. When I was younger, I would see the world meets and I was always wishing that I could go to one of those meets and feed on that international level,” Saldutto said. “I never actually thought I would get the chance to do that so I am super excited to go and experience it. Even if the competition doesn’t go well when I get there, I would just be happy to be able to experience all of it.”
He can’t wait to wear Canadian colours for the first time.
“I am looking forward to getting all of my Team Canada gear and being able to represent my country.”
The world championships will be held Aug. 17-22 in Nairobi, Kenya, and when they are over he will barely have the time to catch his breath before heading back to school for his sophomore season at Monroe.
“As long everything goes well, it will inspire me to work really hard this year,” he said.
Monroe has worked out well for him.
“I went there on a visit in February of last year and everyone was so welcoming. They all made me feel at home and I felt so comfortable there,” he said. “They also have a great track program and my coach, Jeremy Tuttle, is awesome. He is really good with all the athletes and he knows what he is doing.”
Saldutto is majoring in accounting and the schooling part of the equation has also been exemplary.
“I am in the honours program there which means that I could go into courses where I could expand my knowledge into some more in-depth topics and also have smaller class sizes and closer relationships with the faculty. That was definitely a big part of it.”
Saldutto felt his biggest adjustment in becoming a D1 athlete was being independent, making sure he got everything done that needed to get done and that everything was scheduled properly.
“It is a lot and it is hard to keep track of everything. When I first got there, I was forgetting about things,” he said. “It was different. I didn’t have people telling me what I needed to do and I needed to figure it out for myself. Once I did that, it was pretty smooth.”
His biggest progression as an athlete has been building up his core and glutes strength.
“I used to have a lot of back pain and stuff and I didn’t do much to work on that. Once I got there, I realized I needed to do specific exercises to increase my core strength so I would have more strength and stability at the end of my throw, which is where you get into really tough positions,” he said. “It puts a lot of stress on your body and once I was able to strengthen that, it was a lot better.”
Saldutto described his first year of being a student/athlete through the COVID-19 pandemic as not too bad.
“Some of my classes were online but I did have some in-class. It was a little difficult meeting people, making friends and all that because a lot the events were cancelled and we all had to social distance and wear masks,” he said. “I still got to go to some classes and train pretty much normally. I had access to all the gyms, the track and everything.”
During this past summer, he has been doing some training at a nearby high school and also trains in Scarborough with coach Shane Risto.
He is not sure where athletics will take him but he is aiming high.
“I kind of need to see where things go in the next few years. Ultimately, I would love to go to the Olympics one day.”
Saldutto is part of a 15-member team (eight men and seven women) heading to Kenya.
“We know that training and competition has been limited this past year so the fact that these athletes have surpassed the selection standards is a testament to the hard work of the athletes, coaches and their communities,” head coach Jason Reindl said in a press release. “The World U20 Championships is a huge event on the pathway towards international senior teams. If we look at Camryn Rogers and Lauren Gale, who were both members of the 2018 U20 team and are now in Tokyo, it is a great indicator of international senior opportunities.”
To protect the athletes, Nairobi’s Moi International Sports Centre Kasarani will be spectator-free. The event will operate in a bubble that limits access to the competition venue and team hotel.
“COVID-19 continues to impact day-to-day activities and this championship will be no different. But thanks to safety protocols and detailed planning, we are confident that our ability to perform will be minimally impacted,” Reindl said.