In 1996, Tyler McCart graduated from South Gwinnett High School and headed off to Coastal Carolina as a standout track and field athlete.
More than 20 years later, McCart finds himself standing out in competition once again.
At the USA Track & Field Masters National competition in Baton Rouge, La., in July, the 39-year-old McCart placed first in his age division, and overall, in the hammer throw, and was crowned as the national champion in the event.
The feat came less than a year after McCart revived his throwing career after a hiatus that lasted well over a decade.
In Nov. 2016, McCart was inducted into the Coastal Carolina Hall of Fame for the hammer throw and re-visiting his collegiate career inspired him to get back into competition.
“Once I got inducted, those juices started to percolate again,” said McCart, who now lives in Dacula. “Sometimes you just don’t want to allow dreams to lie there dormant.”
Looking to build off of a strong performance right out of the gate, McCart has set his long-term sights on competing at the 2020 Olympic Trials, an event that he wanted to attend in 2000 but did not.
Despite his return to success in competition, McCart is still adjusting to training and throwing on a regular basis.
“Just like riding a bike, you get back there and your brain knows what to do but your body might not know what to do,” McCart said. “When I started back, I had prepared myself mentally to not try to rush this. … I’ve still got some rust. I’m nowhere near where I was in college yet. There are indications that I will be able to get back there but I’m not there yet.”
In this phase of his career, though, scheduling is a more challenging task.
A husband and father of four, McCart is juggling a lot with his family, job and athletics all on his busy schedule. But thanks to support from his family and flexibility in his work as a sales rep, McCart has found time to train from Monday through Thursday and on Saturday mornings.
As he has settled back into his training routine, McCart feels that his goals for the upcoming season are attainable.
“My goal for this upcoming year is to throw beyond 60 meters (196.85 feet),” McCart said. “Right now this past season with only six months of training, I’m throwing around 170 feet. So I’ve got about 30 feet to go, which with a year of training under my belt (is doable).”
But the biggest motivator for McCart is his family.
His wife, Amy, has been supportive of his athletic pursuits and his children, who had not previously seen him compete, are excited to see their father in action.
“(The children) had seen pictures of me throwing but what really was the coolest experience was when I was at the Georgia Championships for the Masters and they were off on the side chanting for me as I was getting ready to throw,” McCart said. “What dad wouldn’t want his kids cheering him on in a sporting event?”
McCart said he has always had the dream of returning to competition since he stopped competing after college. But he had never taken the leap or felt that the time was right to really make it all work.
Now, though, after being inducted into his alma mater’s Hall of Fame and having the proper pieces in place, McCart is ready to make one last run at his lifelong Olympic dreams.
“If I had tried to do this a couple of years ago, I feel like there would have been a lot of toil and it would not have worked,” McCart said. “But right now just feels like the right timing and season for this. And it feels like I am being led by the Lord to do this.”