Like father like son is a saying that Conor McCullough hopes to continue living this summer as he pursues a bid to the Rio Olympic Games. Conor’s father, Conor McCullough Sr. competed in both the 1984 and 1988 Summer Olympics as a hammer thrower. From an early age, Conor began to learn from his father and by the time he entered high school, he devoted his time and efforts entirely to hammer throwing. Through a combination of hard work and great coaching, McCullough made an immediate impact on the sport and won a silver medal at the 2008 World Junior Championships. Two years later, Conor won the gold at the 2010 World Junior Championships. With strong athletic and academic skills, Conor continued his hammer throwing at Princeton University. There, Conor continued to grow and develop but found it difficult to devote the necessary time to both his academic endeavors and athletic dreams. At about the same time, his father sustained an injury and McCullough decided to take time off from school to help his father recover, while figuring out a new future plan for himself.
This plan eventually took McCullough to USC, where he successfully petitioned the NCAA to allow him to be eligible to throw for the Trojan Track & Field Team. Conor found his time at USC to be very beneficial because he could train at a high level, still maintain a presence near his home and family, and continue to pursue his academic degree in engineering. Having recently graduated from USC, McCullough now works part time, is a volunteer coach at USC, and a full time athlete, training for the upcoming U.S. Olympic Trials. For McCullough it is all about balance, “Balancing the training and work can be trying. Also making sure that the training you are doing is appropriate and that you are not overtraining is important. Finding the balance between all of that is key. Especially in an Olympic year, I want to make sure I am fully prepared and do my best this summer,” stated McCullough.
Part of what allows McCullough to find that balance is the grant from the USATF Foundation. The Grant allows Conor more flexibility in his work and ultimately helps him make ends meet, “Training equipment, travel, and food are very expensive, especially as a hammer thrower. It really is night and day, especially for athletes like myself who aren’t quite at the very top level. There is no league, only individual sponsorship for deals and so for people who are just on the cusp of that, financially, this is a big factor for me,” said McCullough. Conor placed 13th in the world last year and had the best American showing at the World Championships. Ideally, through his hard training and support from both his father and coach at USC, McCullough will build on his success and hopefully be throwing in Rio this summer.