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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Discus in the blood: Viktor Gardenkrans

Darien Bakas

On his way to Arizona, redshirt freshman track and field thrower Viktor Gardenkrans spent dozens of hours traveling from Sweden and trekked more than 5,000 miles. Within the past two years, he moved from his home and his family in Sweden to attend the UA and compete as a shotputter and discus thrower for the Wildcats.

The transition was not easy, to say the least. Gardenkrans almost sticks out like a sore thumb. His 6-foot-6 body frame doesn’t help either.

What makes Gardenkrans unique is his knowledge of the sport in general. He grew up living and breathing throwing as his father represented Sweden in the 1980 Olympics.

“It’s pretty easy, my dad was an Olympian in discus, my mom was in the European Championships for discus, my younger brother throws discus and I do discus and shotput,” Gardenkrans said. “Ever since I was a baby I’ve just been at the track and seeing all these different marks. For some reason, I just remember digits pretty well and my dad’s favorite topic is throwing which is all we really discuss really.”

The family record of 65 meters (213 feet) was set by his father, whom he and his younger brother have been chasing. At the moment, his personal best is 184 feet (56 meters), but he also acknowledged the fact that throwers usually peak between the ages of 28 and 33.

“As soon as I beat my dad, I will be pretty happy with how far I’ve thrown considering the fact that he was an Olympian and stuff like that,” Gardenkrans said.

After redshirting his true freshman season, it’s now or never for Gardenkrans, especially with the Olympics in sight.

“We will see, I’m aiming for Tokyo in 2020,” he said. “This year is a little too early, but the real question is whether it will be in shotput or discus because I’m going to have to pick one eventually.”

The date will most certainly be circled on his calendar for years to come.

“It means a lot for the people back home in my small town for the 4,000 people that I grew up with. I really want my classmates from junior high and elementary school and my old teachers to watch. That would mean the world to me,” Gardenkrans said.

He has some pretty lofty goals in sight before his time at Arizona concludes.

“When I leave, I want to have a master’s academically and I want to be a national champion in discus or shot put,” he said.

In fact, one fellow teammate has called Gardenkrans an “encyclopedia of throwing.”

“I think he’s definitely extremely motivated,” sophomore thrower Grayson Fleming said. “He knows the technique just as well as anyone and his passion for throwing is deep within him. His knowledge of throwing, who won each Olympics and the year, everyone’s personal best throughout history, he’s kind of like an encyclopedia of throwing.”

Fleming has lived with Gardenkrans for the last semester and has figured out what is behind his motivation.

“His goal is to always throw far,” Fleming said. “That’s his number one goal in life I think.”

There are very few doubts from friends and teammates that Gardenkrans has the potential to make it all the way. In fact, Gardenkrans said that his proudest moment was when he competed in the under-18 division and for the entire European season, he was ranked No. 1 in the world.

At the same time, academics are incredibly important to him. He is studying geography and wants to pursue a master’s degree in education. He also speaks four languages fluently: Norwegian, Danish, Swedish and English. Although his time at the UA is limited in eligibility he is taking full advantage of the learning opportunities along the way.

“You can’t work on everything at the same time,” Gardenkrans said. “You kind of have to take it proportionally and just do a little bit here and there, you can’t really rush it. I also learned a lot more about recovery and taking care of your body. Consistency and recovery are two very important things.”

Before meets, Gardenkrans said he likes to listen to rock music by artists such as Rammstein, AC/DC or Slipknot.

“Rock music just has that effect on me,” Gardenkrans said. “I just get excited and anxious and kind of my fingers start tingling because I really need to throw something.”

With so much at stake in the upcoming season, all Gardenkrans can do now is just go out in competitions and throw far.

“I’m not really aiming for any records or medals right now, but my biggest goal is just to be satisfied,” Gardenkrans said. “When a throw feels completed, effortless and goes really far.”

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