May, 2010


Four 2009 champs return to defend their titles.

Different City, Same Champs

Belarus takes on the world

Archie Harris and Al Blozis

2009 World Heavy Events Champ

Alternate Implements for youth hammer

Chatting with the American champion

Kevin Bookoutís Oklahoma dominance

Balancing throwing and training

The essential dynamics

An approach to coaching youth

33 years of javelin learning


2009 National Heavy Events Champion

By Mark Valenti

"What in the hell are you doing?!" asked the voice on the other end of the line in that goofy southern drawl I had grown to recognize. "Is that you on the golf course?!"  I had gotten lost on my way to the resort that would be our lodging for the next two nights at the Uwharie Games in North Carolina and had somehow ended up on the cart path near the 9th green of the golf course.  My roommate for the weekend ,Kerry Overfelt , was standing on the deck of the suite laughing and trying to direct me back to the highway. This was the start of my traveling partnership with Overfelt. I should have known right then and there, that it was going to be a bumpy ride.

Kerry, for all the good-natured ribbing we all give him, is an unstoppable force on the Highland Games circuit.  When he shows up at a Games, it has come down to everyone arguing over who will be in second place.  This year before the National Championships in Bethlehem , Pa, Kerry did something totally out character for him; he called his shot.  He went on several  Heavy Events websites and told the rest of the field that he would win the Nationals this year, and they all better be ready to accept defeat.  He then went out a month later and won Nationals in a dominating performance.

The rest of the world is about to be introduced to this balding, chubby nightmare when he walks on the field at the World Heavy Events Championships in Vancouver, British Columbia, this May.  Smart money is on K.O. bringing home his first World Championship.


L&S: Give us a run-down on the basics. Whatís your height and weight?

KO: Iím 5í11" and 300lbs.

L&S: Okay ,thatís a total lie,. You are 315 lbs., if you are an ounce! What are some of your personal records in the throwing events?

KO:  Braemar Stone - 41í7", Open Stone - 51í ,  56 lb. Weight for Distance - 47í-plus, 28 lb. Weight for Distance - 91í Heavy Hammer - 119í,  Light Hammer - 142í, Sheaf Toss - 34í, Weight Over the Bar - 18í6" with the spin, and 17í2" from a stand.

L&S: What is your athletic background like; what sports did you play in high school?

KO: I  played football when I was a junior in high school , I  was too insecure to play  my freshman and sophomore years.  I was a shy kid if you can believe that. I was not a good athlete in high school.

L&S: What sports if any did you play in college?

KO:  I was  a late bloomer athletically. I went to college for one year at Eastern Kentucky and left; I wanted to work and make money. I started lifting weights when I was 18 and I loved bodybuilding. I did four teenage shows but never knew what I was doing. I knew that I loved the iron game and liked working out. I loved football also and  kept a dream I could  play college football one day. My friends thought I was crazy. I was not good enough to play in high school; how could I play college? I was 20 years old when I  met my other sister for the first time. She was a student at Campbellsville University. We had the same dad; the guy that never claimed me (laughs). I went with my sister to a Campbellsville football game and was hooked. I enrolled the next semester and played there for four years. I was a captain my senior year and was All-Conference my junior and senior years. I was also named offensive line MVP my senior year.  Not bad for a kid who had no business playing football.

L&S: You started to touch on it in the last question; you have lived a pretty interesting life, especially growing up.  Tell us about your early years.

KO:  I grew up  on the farm until I was six, then we moved to Cave City, KY and the cozy confines of a trailer park. We lived in a trailer most of my life until Mom upgraded to the projects (low-income housing). We lived there until we finally moved into a run-down old house. We were very, very poor growing up. Mom held two jobs usually, and we still shopped at the Dollar General store for our school clothes and shoes.

Never had a dad, had a step-dad for four years. He was a part-time drug dealer, but mostly a drug user. This ainít no lie either, broí. My step-dad would physically and mentally abuse my mom, until one day she had enough and we left. I was that fat kid that got picked on for being fat and wearing two dollar shoes. Not much has changed; Mark still makes fun of me for being fat and not having a BlackBerry. 

I never thought my sister and I had it rough, though. My Mom loved us and we always had food, clothes and a roof over our head. Thatís all a kid needs. I feel lucky that I had to go through that, because it made me a much tougher person.

L&S: How do you think growing up the way you did affected your athletic career?

KO:  I think growing up and having to work hard my whole life helped me.  Doing that gave me a work ethic that has carried over into my whole life. I remember as a twelve- year-old cutting tobacco and trying to race my uncles to see who could get through a row first.   Can you imagine a parent nowadays letting their kid whirl a tobacco knife around all day?! I also want to add that I didnít have troubles as a kid. I had food ,clothes, and a roof over my head and a mom who loved me.

Thatís why my mom is the person I admire most. She taught me so much about being tough and hard work.

L&S: Wow! I can relate I remember growing up one time and my dad had to decide if he wanted a 40í SeaRay motor yacht or a 36í Wellcraft cigarette boat.  Obviously one was bigger, but the other faster. Talk about a tough weekend!

KO: Youíre an idiot.

L&S: Did you play football after college? Where and how did you get started in the Heavy Events?

KO:  After college I knew football was done. I knew about the Heavy Events because I had been to the Glasgow Highland games in Kentucky. My old gym owner got me started in the Games. He said, "Hey, letís go try this."

Thatís how it started.

L&S: Did you have any throwing background prior to the Games?

KO:  I threw the discus in high school. It consisted of the coach throwing down the implements and saying, "Go throw." No coaching at all. It was humorous, sort of like my stone throwing now.

L&S: How did you prepare for this yearís nationals?

KO:  I did nothing different for this yearís nationals than for any other. I took a week off from work, rested big-time and ate like a horse. I did not throw the entire week; I just rested. This year  I won Nationals, the North American Championship and Fergus. I won 14 out of 19 Games this year.

L&S: Why didnít you go to Worlds this year?

KO:  I did not go to Worlds this year because I was not invited! So when they had some injuries come up, they called me and I said, "NO." I had already planned on the Portland (OR) Games and the Enumclaw (WA) Games. I had already paid for tickets, lodging and everything.

L&S: Will you be going to Worlds next year?

KO:  I will be going to Worlds next year , if I avoid injury and death (laughs).

L&S: Why donít you compete in Scotland?

KO:  I donít compete in Scotland cause I hate the weather, food, implements and traveling over there. I just donít see the point when I can compete here. 

I also run a personal training business, and if I ainít working, I ainít making money! So being over there I lose money each day.

L&S: Give us a rundown of what a training week looks like for you, both in-season and out-of-season.

KO: Training in-season is on an instinctive schedule for me.  I do lower body Monday with some throws; two lifts and then throw. Tuesday I do upper body stuff and stone throws. If I feel run-down, then I do  a lot less, or take the whole week off. I donít do a lot of throwing in-season.

The off-Season  is fun for me. I do three-to-four days, Westside all the way; two max effort days, two explosive days. I use the Conjugate System as far as exercises go.  I use all different types of exercises.

L&S: What are some of your lifting maxes?

KO:  725 lbs. deadlift, 600 box squat, 345 close grip bench.  I donít do conventional Olympic lifts, so I have no maxes for them.

L&S: Why no Olympic lifts? They are Godís gift to throwers. Donít you know that?

KO:  I donít agree with using Olympic lifts to be explosive. I think thatís crap!  If youíre stronger, then you can apply more force and be more explosive.

L&S: Who did you look up to coming up as an amateur in the sport of Heavy Events?

KO:  Ryan Vierra, Myles Wetzel , Don Stewart and Sean Betz.  Vierra helped me a lot technically. Don helped me with the training to be a thrower and helping me change up my weight routine. I admire all my competitors though.

L&S: What do you love about the Highland Games?

KO:   I love the competition, the challenge of me having to push beyond the limits, the friends , and the relationships I have made through the Games.

L&S: Any final thoughts?

KO: You suck!

L&S: Youíre a tool.  Thanks for the interview! *L&S*