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Interview with Petur Gudmundsson (10/31)

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    Posted: 8/24/11 at 7:50am
Interview with Petur Gudmundsson (10/31/10)

Here is my interview with Petur Gudnumdsson.  This is the man that started me in the games.  I used to watch him do the strange Olympic lifts and other things for years and am now sorry I waited to find out what and why he was doing.  This is a gentleman in the games, a family man and a great friend.  I really love Petur and his family.  On top of all that, he is one incredible athlete.  If you ever get to watch him throw the stone you will realize your watching greatness.  The big man moves like a balerina and it is pure poetry in motion to see.  It has been over 10 years since he started me in the games and I think I still tell him thank you for the great gift he gave me.  Petur has not lived in America now for some time, so his English is a little off, but still very good.  I left it like it was, I wanted everyone to see it real and pure.  I can hear his accent as I read this, so I am enjoying it more than most.  So enjoy Petur the Great.  The Viking from Iceland. 

How old are you? I am 48 years old but feel much younger. 
Where were you born? Born in 1962, ninth of mars. 
Where do you live now? In Reykjavik, Iceland. The house is on a hillside and I got a fabulous view over the city and the ocean. 
How did you end up there? It was always the plan after Alabama to go back to Iceland. 
What do you drive? I drive a big Hyundai van, it is 4x4 and serves me great for everything that I need to do. 
You ever change your own oil? I  did that when I was younger and had less money, Now I take it to the shop. 
How many languages do you speak? I speak two languages, Icelandic and English and I can manage in Danish. 
Have you gone green? In a way. We do separate the garbage, paper, plastic, glass and bio. 
What do you think about global warming? It is good for Iceland, it is getting warmer over here. But honestly I think this is something much bigger than just from pollution. 
Do they push going green in Iceland? Yes. 
How did you end up in Tuscaloosa? I got recruited in 1983 at UA as a shot-putter. I only studied there for one winter, got badly injured in my right hip and had a surgery in Iceland. Did not at that time think of a comeback and met my wife and got married. 
So in 1994 when I was looking for a warm country to train in for the 1996 Olympics, Alabama came right up because off my connection to the UA. So at that time we had four children at the age range from nine months to 12 years. These yeasr were great, a choice I do not regret. 
How long did you live there? We lived there for almost 7 great years. 
What did you think about that nasty powerlifter that lived there and trained in the gym with you, the tall one with the black hair? That guy looked scary to me but he was very interested in what I and my brother, Hilmar, were doing in the backyard. Tossing cabers and throwing the Highland stuff. So after I got to know him he turned out to be a great guy with a very high passion for lifting weights and staying strong. I always remember the first time he tried to turn a stick. His arms were bigger than the caber and he launched it into the air like a rocket. 
Did you think he ever had a chance at being a good thrower? He came very late into the throwing world and therefore had a lot to learn. He certainly had the mentality and strength to become a good all around thrower. I remember I told him to do alot of drills and bounding exercises to get more mobile for the lighter events. But it is hard to school and old dog and this dog is a stubborn stallion. He instantly got good at the heavier events but still needs quicker feats for the stone and weights. Still can do it. Look out next season for this one. 
What do you do for a living? I am a full time police officer and I also coach throwers in track and field. Rather busy all the time, training myself and helping others throwing. 
How did you get into that? My father was a police officer so it was easy to take that path. Coaching comes naturally to me and  i love it. I have so many things to share in the field of throwing. 
Tell us about your education? After regular education as a child and a teenager I went into carpentry. I learned that but then after my shot put career started I realized that a hard work like carpentry does not go well with throwing and lifting so I went for the Police academy and graduated from that in 1990. In Alabama I studied Criminal Justice and graduated in may 2001 with a masters degree. Great times at the UA, ROLL TIDE. 
As a kid growing up, what was your first job? I lived on a farm so I had all the jobs that go with taking care of cows and sheep. Jobs that make anybody strong. As I grew up I learned carpentry and built houses for a while. The carpentry did not really go with my training for throwing so It was easy to just tray the police. 
When you grew up as a kid, what sports did you play? I played allot of socker at first but as a teenager I got to know throwing so I tried all of the throwing, javelin, disk, hammer and shot. I also played volleyball for years and I really think all that bounding really helped my throwing later on. The schokker is that my first event that I really practisihed in track and field was a polevault.
Did you throw in high school and if so what did you throw? No, not as a planned sport. I lived on a farm and there I threw everything, and it was all home made. A net circle was my discus, my spear was a broomstick with an iron end. My shots were real shots and I threw them every day and sometimes up to three times a day. Those years I was skinny and also practiced for pole polevault. At the age of 16 I got more serious for throwing and started lifting weights. 
Tell us about throwing in college. 
I threw for Alabama in the year of 1983. Threw the shot 55‘5“ at the age of 21. I tore my right gluteus max, had a surgery and quit throwing for several years while recovering.  
Talk about the Olympics and some memories from that? I competed at the 88 games in Seoul, south Korea and placed 14th there. Just missed the finals of the greatest shot put competition ever. Timmerman, Barnes, Gunther, Bayer. I also competed at the 92 games in Barcelona, Spain. And I got 14th again. I was called Petur the 14th for a while after that. I did qualify for the 96 games at Atlanta but did not compete due to injuries to my right hand. 
What was your best game in the shot? My best ever was 69‘9“3/4. Thrown in Iceland in the fall of 1990. That year I was ranked 10th in Track and Field News. 
What was your first Highland Game and when was that? My first games were in Scotland way back in the old century. It was sometime in the late 1980s. 
Who was at that game? Douglas Edmunds invited me to compete at the worlds and I think my invitation was to get me acquainted to the games and also to beat Capes in the stones. I a really proud to say that I did that. This was Capes last games and my first. I meet Capes a few years ago in Portugal and we talked about this competition. Macoldric won the title there. 
What made you decide to try and compete at a game? I love to throw and the Highland Games is a festival for every thrower, just great. 
What is your favorite event? Well, stone put, but just because I was good at it. Caber toss is really the signature event for Highland Games and I feel that one really challenging. 
What is a common mistake you see people make in that event? In stone, it is when strong men try to throw the stone in stead of putting the stone. There is a reason for the name, stone put or shot put, it is not a throw in a sense. You got to use all of your body to get the stone out there. I got to say about the caber, people tend to loose it away from them and pull to late or to far from the body. A good friend of mine from Scotland, sometimes called the giant killer told me once regarding the caber, „think when youn are running with the caber,“ pull before you stop“ or block“.  
Who were the first people to influence and coach you in the sport? I remember Douglas Edmunds trying to teach me to throw the 28 in Scotland. He wanted me to take the weight once over head and then take the approach we all know. Magnus Ver Magnusson taught me how to swing the weight for height and to turn the caber. Stone was self taught. Hammers I never learned properly but many have tried to help me out there, men like Ryan, Francis, Alistair, Bruce and others. Thanks to them I managed to become an average hammer thrower with best of 133“11‘ and 106“6‘. My best numbers in the other events are 61´6 in open, world records in the Breamar, 86‘something in the 28, roughly 40‘ in the 56 for distance, 17‘ wob, 32‘2 20lbs sheaf. Not the best numbers but make me proud.
Talk about some of the pro games you have done and your favorites. I have been to many of the greats but still has not gone to Breamar, got to do it.

The Celtic, Plesanton, Estes, Glasgow Kentucky and Loon are my favorites. The 2000 grand prix final in Rio, Brazil and the worlds in New Zealand that year where memorable.  
What country do you enjoy competing in the most, and why? Now I like to go to countries that I have not done a highland games in and this year I went to France and Belgium. Great games and good venues. I hear Spain is exciting and Norway has started games. My favorite games is the Loon Mountain games. I have gone there 8 times and I have many friends up there. 
Who do you enjoy competing with and why? I love the company of good throwers, I love the tension, the competition but at the same time the respect and admiration the throwers have for each other. If I am to pick one thrower over all of the great ones that I have competed against, it is Ryan Vierra. We fought many times on the fiels and most of the time I lost to him. 
Let me mention some names and you comment on them; 
Vierra; The only true professional in highland games. At least when I was throwing. He is an exceptional thrower due to the fact that he is not the tallest of them and also a half Portuguese. He would have been the far best thrower over there, they are known for runners and runners, not throwers. Technically he was the best in everything but the stone and WOB. Very hard trainer and a good friend. 
Gunn; Straight forward and no bullshit guy. Great thrower and a clever one. Great hammer thrower and a few years back a hard to beat guy. Good friend and we have fought in many occasions. 
Pulcinela; Strong man with some throwing skills. Could have the best day of all or the worst day. Never seen so much fluctuation in one mans throwing. Good friend and a funny man to hang around with. 
McDonald; Doug turned out to become one of the caber legends. Always a super great guy and very thoughtful to everybody. He is a role model. I saw how women wanted him but he turned them down, one after another, beautiful girls. I always remember when we were in Denver and Doug had turned on of the biggest sticks. The commentator asked him on the microphone what the Canadians would eat to get so strong. Doug said, „a lot of beaver“. And thousands off people started lawing. I, the Icelander did not understand the yoke but Doug's face turned read and he got very amberest and I did not understand. After Kurt explained what „eating beaver meant I started laughing to. 
Big Chief; He won the world title in my first games in Scotland. He is a gentleman and one of the big names in highland games. I also respect Jim for his throwing years with the discus, he had some great throws there. Just like Doug he is one of the caber legends but good in all of the throws as well. Good man and a great competitor. 
Zilstra; My friend from Frisland. We have battled in many games and it is always fun around him. A great show man and a WOB legend. This man gives the crowd a goosbumps, ja ja ja ja. Majones and coca cola is his thing. 
Wetzel; My good friend from Tuscaloosa. I which we had got together a little sooner there in Tusc. A very strong man. He taught me alot in the weight room as I taught him on the field. I remember those Saturdays mornings we threw together and Hilmar, my younger brother was there also. You brought a table and chair, food and drinks and the whole set was planned. I learned from that.   
Talk about some of the throws, games and moments you are most proud of. Winning the grand prix final in Rio, Brazil was a sweet win. Many good throwers were there and the location was great. My breamar records make me proud and especially the 28lbs record which I took from Capes at the Fredricksburg games. 40“11‘ is the record. 
Talk about training and your philosophy in the area of throwing? Well, my philosophy is that if you train hard enough you will be as good as you can get. A good thrower has athletic ability in the genes. That is not enough and hard training is necessary, lifting and throwing, sprints and bounding, training plan and discipline. To day there is alot of help out there especially with technology to use. Videos and alot of material to look at on the Internet. It is easy to gather information on how to do things, it is to do it, that is the tough part. Are you a doer? That is the question. 
Tell us about some of the injuries you had as an athlete. Surgery on my right hip or should I say ass. Surgery on my right hand and surgery on my right elbow. I have had both my knees scoped and I have pulled some muscles here and there. My biggest injury was pulling my right peck throwing the 28lbs for distance at Aviemore in Scotland. My most painful injury was a calf injury occurring when I was doing an extra event in Icelandic highland games, running with 220lbs in each hand for a time. In general, I guess I can consider myself lucky because I am still throwing. 
What impresses you now in the sport? What impresses me now in the sport is how many good throwers are out there. I think the sport is getting more and more popular and the records are all going to be broken in a few years time, even mine. 
Who makes you laugh at games now? Brennivín haha. I love to meet old friends and throw with them. Talk about old games and guys, do other stuff than I normally do at home. 
What training philosophy do you follow in the gym? Train hard but smart. 
When did you start lifting weights and what got you started? I started as a thrower and then came the lifting. I realized that I needed to get stronger to be able to throw further.  
Are all the plates in Kilo’s in Iceland? Yes, all in kilo‘s. 
What do you like to do outside of the games? Well, I love to see my kids, I got five of them and three are living by them selves. Regarding the games I only do a few games these years and actually this year was an increase from last year. I did three games this year but only one last year. Like I said earlier I coach throwers and sometimes that is five or six times a week. This has really taken me and I love it. 
What other hobbies do you have? I really don't have time for much else, but I love to travel. In Iceland we have many great things to see and a great collection scattered around the country of testing stones, it is always fun to have a go at those. Travelling abroad is great and I like to see the big old churches, like in Rome, London, Barcelona, Milan and Paris. 
What is your favorite food? My favorite is Lobster, so goooood. 
We all know Mexican or Cuban food, but what is Iceland food? Normal food I would say. Roasted head of a lamb or a fermented shark with some brennivin. In between there is a chicken, pork, lamb, beef, fish or pasta. 
Do you BBQ up there? Yes, that is my thing. I got a great grill. 
What supplements do you take? Protein and creatine. Also allot of cod liver oil capsules and multi vitamin. 
What do you drink with a meal at home? Water in most of the time. Sometimes a soda or in rare occations some red wine. 
What beer do you like? Holstein from Germany was my favorite. Then my good friend from NH, Bill Crawford gave me a beer called Skullsplitter and that one is great. It is dark and strong. 
What is the stuff in the green bottle you pull out after a game? Brennivín. An Icelandic strong alcohol. Makes you feel good instantly and clears your throat. I always bring it with me. 
Tell us about your house? I love it. It is big, two story and sits high on a hill side. A very good view and a nice valley with now houses in my back yard. It is made of concrete like most houses in Iceland and built sturdy. 
How long have you been married? 26 years this October. 
How did you meet your wife? We met at a party her brother had at theirs house. She was 18 and I was 21. Eight months later we were married. 
How many children do you have? Five good children. 25 the oldest and 8 the youngest. Three are moved out and the oldest is expecting a child in may. I am going to become a GRANDFATHER. Cant wayt.  
How many brothers do you have? Originally we were five brothers and one sister. The oldest died in an accident in 1985. 
Do you like to garden? Lets say, I take care of the yard with my wife but se does most of the work. I have to throw some time. 
Are you a cat or dog person? O, a very much a dog person. I got my own Dachshund and he just loves my. 
Are you conservative or liberal in politics? I guess I am more conservative but still open to explore and change. I am a doer and cant stand and wait for things to happen. 
Are you into Astrology?  What sign are you? No, that is to big and scary to think about. If I tend to wonder about the universe and the stars I loose my balance and grounding and that is bad for throwing. I am a fish. 
Are you a religious man, and if so, what do you practice? I do not consider my self a very religious even though I do belive in God. I still dought many things in the Bible but underneath I belive in all the good within people. What goes around comes around. I belong to the Lutheran part of the church like 95% of the Icelandic people.
Talk about some of the music you listen to at different times. I am very much a rock man. I like great guitarists like Eric Clapton or Jeff Beck. I can listen to most music and I consider my self a music person. 
Where do you like to go out to eat? I love good food. Steaks, lamb, pork, chicken, fish, lobster you name it, Ill eat it. 
What do you like to watch on TV? I like all kind of sports and if the stakes are high enough, Olympics, Worlds and so on I can watch anything from throwing to curling. I do watch action movies and mysteries. 
Are you a western movie or sci fi person?  Tell a favorite. Star Trek fan, captain Picard generation though. I loved those plywood settings and the shaking of the cabin in turbulence. In the old days when I was watching some western movies I routed for the Indians. 
What are the goals for this year? This year was to throw better than last year and the same will be for next year. My future goal is to have games in Iceland.
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