UNC thrower Daniel McArthur is no stranger to the limelight.
As a two-time All-American, two-time ACC Champion shot putter and seven-time All-ACC athlete, the fifth-year senior has racked up records and accolades in shot put like an ordinary person racks up episodes in a Netflix binge.
McArthur broke the UNC indoor track shot put record on Feb. 6 with a throw of 20.59 meters, a record that he previously set himself in 2019. Yet, despite the heights he has reached, the Mooresville, North Carolina native had humble beginnings to his career as a Tar Heel.
McArthur started as a four-sport athlete at Mooresville High School, balancing football, lacrosse, track and field and wrestling. For most of his time in high school, McArthur didn’t place as much of a focus on throwing as he did football.
“I didn’t really take track and field that seriously until my senior year,” McArthur said. “It was one of those, 'Hey, I’m a big guy' (situations) and all the pretty girls at my school did track ... I was a big football guy, and all my teammates did track."
Everything changed McArthur’s senior year as he dealt with a back injury that kept him off the football field, eventually deciding to switch his focus towards track and field. But still, McArthur comes from a family with a history of track and field. His father, Richard, competed in track and field at N.C. State.
Following his injury, Daniel said his father was instrumental in his development as a thrower.
Despite being a state champion and competing at New Balance Nationals in high school, McArthur was not recruited by UNC, instead joining the Tar Heels as a walk-on. Though the designation of being a walk-on is far behind him, McArthur still carries it with him as motivation. His training partner, redshirt sophomore Madias Loper, said McArthur's work ethic has been critical when it comes to building UNC's throwing program.
“(You'd think) the more accolades he gets, he'd be a different person, but no," Loper said. "He has that chip on his shoulder like he’s coming in to prove he’s got a spot on that team."
Throws assistant coach Amin Nikfar said McArthur's work ethic and approach to his craft is a benefit for the group.
“He is a joy to be around," Nikfar said. "He's always got a positive attitude, really good work ethic. He always comes focused."
McArthur attributes a large part of his success to those who gave him a chance. After entering UNC as a walk-on not far removed from being focused on a separate sport entirely, he's still grateful just for the opportunity to compete.
“I have gotten to show the people that believed in me that they were right to believe in me, and to me, that is the absolute cool thing about it," McArthur said.
After the 2020 outdoor season was canceled due to COVID-19, McArthur was able to see the bright side of the situation. Despite often sharing the gym and weight room with multiple other sports, he was able to come out of the pandemic better prepared than ever.
Even with McArthur's record-breaking throws, Loper said his training partner has an even higher ceiling. Vikas Gowda, the UNC thrower whose 14-year record McArthur broke in 2019, was a four-time Olympian.
“I’ve seen him throw way further in practice," Loper said. “Don’t be surprised if you’re doing another article on him doing something else crazy."
For his part, McArthur is living up to those words and shows no signs of slowing down. He hopes to eventually break the national record for shot put, win the NCAA Championship in the event and win the Patterson Award, UNC’s honor for the top male and female departing athlete. As for beyond college, McArthur has his eyes set on competing in the Olympic Trials.
“I know I have a lot more to do," McArthur said.
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.