Has sights set on 2021 Summer Olympics
EVANSVILLE – While he didn’t have the opportunity to finish his track and field season this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, University of Tennessee Volunteers shot put athlete Joseph Maxwell has been selected for a very prestigious award from the university. And while he prepares for the 2021 season, he also has his eyes on qualifying for next year’s summer Olympic Games.
“It is quite an honour,” stated Mr. Maxwell from his parents’ home in Evansville this past Saturday. “I received word I have won the Chuck Rohe Leadership award through the university.” The Tennessee track and field program honours Mr. Lohe’s legacy each year. Mr. Maxwell will be presented the award at a track and field meet in the next season.
“Chuck Rohe was a legendary track and field coach at the school in the 1960s,” stated Mr. Maxwell.
At the helm of the UT men’s track program from 1963-1971, Mr. Rohe lead the Volunteers to a dominant stretch of 21 consecutive SEC titles across cross country, indoor and outdoor track and field. In 1967, he was named the United States Track and Field Coach of the Year.
The Chuck Rohe Leadership Award is designated for the student-athlete who consistently displays outstanding leadership with integrity, enthusiasm, diligence, academic excellence and a get-it-done attitude.
Mr. Maxwell said that this season, “I was in my senior year for indoor track and field (shot put) and this would have been my junior outdoor season. I have two more seasons left in outdoor competition.”
“For now, I’m going to train at home,” said Mr. Maxwell. “One step at a time, and deal with things as they come.” He and his teammates were in Albuquerque, New Mexico the day before the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) indoor championships were to take place when COVID-19 hit and the event was cancelled.
Winning the southeast conference championship this year in shot put was big for Joseph and it was anticipated he would do very well at the NCAA championship.
“Honestly, I wasn’t all that disappointed (they were cancelled),” he told the Recorder. “With the set up of training equipment I have at home it will give me a little bit of an advantage in that it gives me extra time to train at home for the next season.”
“I’ve improved the equipment and machines that I have on hand for training at home; I have access at home to pretty much anything I would have had at Tennessee,” he said.
With the urging of his father Steve, Mr. Maxwell has made a couple of small changes in his shot put techniques. “I am always hesitant to make any changes because it can take a long time to get comfortable with something, and I like to stay with things that have always worked,” continued Mr. Maxwell. “My biggest improvement I’ve made since going to Tennessee is with my strength. With (throwing) techniques it takes time, but I’ve been very pleased with the changes made so far; I think it’s all going to pay off.”
“For sure, I’ve always looked at the Olympic Games/international competitions, but college takes precedence, everything else has been secondary,” continued Mr. Maxwell. “The Olympics has always been a big goal of mine. I think I can make it,” he said, noting that he would have to attain a shot put throw distance of 21.10 metres. “I need to make up a little over one metre in about a year’s time, something I’ve been able to do each year in college. So, I think it is attainable.”
With the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic this year, the Summer Olympic Games were postponed until 2021. “I have a better shot next year to make the Canadian team,” said Mr. Maxwell.