Josh Cinnamo competes in the Mens Shot Put Ambulatory at the U.S. Paralympic Track & Field Trials on June 17, 2021 in Minneapolis, Minn.
MINNEAPOLIS — While world champion Josh Cinnamo’s mark of 14.70 meters in the shot put F46 on the first day of the U.S. Paralympic Team Trials for Track and Field didn’t quite stack up among the best throws of his career, at the end of the day he was more than content getting the opportunity to compete in his own backyard. The IT data center project manager by morning and U.S. Paralympic hopeful by afternoon resides in Lakeville, Minnesota, less than a 30-minute drive from Breck School near Minneapolis where the Trials are being held.
“There’s more in the tank after today,” Cinnamo said. “It was nice to be home, but I’ve always been little bit of an away player. I like to go somewhere else to get away from work and family to focus, as it’s hard to put in a full day of work as a dad and come out and perform at your best, but at the end of the day it is really nice to compete at home.”
Born without his right arm below the elbow, the 40-year-old was fighting off a groin injury on Friday evening that he insists will not deter him from his road to Tokyo.
“I’m still on the path I want to be on,” he said. “It’s a little bit of a mixed feeling, as I’m dealing with a bit of an injury right now, and the last four days I’ve been doing everything I can to get it ready for today. It’s been fatigued from all the work I’ve put on it, but the fact that I even went out and threw today is a revelation.”
Cinnamo grew up in San Diego, where he remembers telling his friends: “You think you can tie your shoes faster than me? 3, 2, 1 … GO!” His competitive drive led him to play football at Morse High School before going on to compete in football and track at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. He participated in CrossFit competitions, Spartan races and the Wounded Warrior Games before attending a Paralympic talent camp in Chicago in 2014 and emerging as one of Team USA’s most powerful athletes. He won his first national shot put title that same year.
Cinnamo has won gold at both the World Para Athletics Championships and Parapan American Games, but has yet to compete at a Paralympic Games. His mark of 16.80 meters at the 2019 World Para Athletics Championships in Dubai remains the world record today.
Coached by Larry Judge, he competed against the world’s best able-bodied shot putters at the Drake Relays last August, his first time throwing competitively since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
Cinnamo also works as the President of Team Some Assembly Required, a non-profit which raises funds to change the narrative around disabilities with fitness, camaraderie and competition as a means to become more confident, independent and purposeful. The initiative offers athletes with a disability fitness opportunities such as the Arnold Affiliate Gathering to compete with and against some of the top athletes.
Throughout the pandemic, Cinnamo has been juggling his job, his training, and his gig as a public speaker with being a father. Cinnamo and his wife of 15 years, Kate, have two children, Tate and Tess, whom are growing up as athletes themselves.
With his shot put competition now behind him at Trials, Cinnamo can relax and look ahead to Father’s Day on Sunday.
“Even though it’s neat what I do and my kids appreciate what I do, it’s honestly more fun for me to watch what they do,” he said. “My son plays baseball and my daughter plays softball, and those are things I’d much rather be watching sometimes than training. I’m glad, though, they get the opportunity to see the amount of work that gets into being an athlete like this. I hope they can take something from it and realize things don’t come easy, and that if they want to be elite in something they’ve got to work at it every day.”