A former member of the Wolfpack tried his shot at the 2008 Olympics, but Mitchell Pope fell just short of his goal.
His distances in the shot put at the Olympic Trials in Eugene, Oregon at the end of June were just shy of 19 meters.
When we first talked to Pope in February, he knew that 21 was a magic number.
“It’s been tough,” Pope said, who trains at NC State. “I really overtrained myself this past fall and everything, fighting injuries. I mean it's every day in the weight room, throwing every day, really just trying to hit that mark of 21 meters."
Pushing the 16-pound shot put through the air 21 meters is a difficult task, one that requires intensive training.
"A lot of people think it's just throwing the ball,” Pope said. “But it's a whole lot more than that. It's technique. Being strong is one thing. But you can't just rely on strength. It's technique, speed and agility."
Pope’s coach, NC State Assistant Track Coach Thomas Wood, said his student has the skills.
"He has the tools that you need for this event,” Wood said. “He's a big man that can move, that's what you need to have."
Pope knew it would be hard at the trials.
"It's tough because in the U.S. we've got some of the best shot putters in the world,” Pope said. “At least the top four best in the world. So right there it's a struggle."
Pope came in 8th and 17th in the trials on June 27, not enough for a trip to Beijing.