Tom finished 2nd at English Schools’ Athletics Association Championships, 2nd at Home Countries Schools’ international representing England Schools, and his UK ranking is 7th
What are your targets for 2017 and beyond? What are you most looking forward to?
I am aiming to medal at English Schools’ and to qualify for the Schools’ International again, hopefully to medal there as well. As a stretch target this year, I am aiming to qualify for the U18 youth commonwealth games. I am most looking forward to a training camp in Finland in June after my GCSEs. I have been to Finland during the past two seasons, supported by the Hampshire Talented Athlete Scheme (HTAS), and I have come away from it a much improved athlete, with very strong friendships both within the UK and abroad.
How did you get in to your sport? How were you introduced?
I went to an AVIVA Startrack event a few months before the 2012 Olympics, and tried everything there. Despite spending most of my time on discus, and only throwing a javelin about three times, I fell in love with the event immediately. I then took this newfound love for javelin down to my local club, Andover AC, and started training there. For 5 years, this love has grown, and now watching the javelin soar through the sky from the end of the runway has become addictive.
What is your biggest challenege you have faced in your sport? How did you overcome it?
In 2016, at the beginning of the season, I was not throwing well; I had hit a plateau. I had not hit the qualification standard for English Schools’ and was getting very stressed by this. I overcame this thanks to HTAS, as they offered sports psychology workshops. These workshops, led by Jo Batey, enabled me to sort my head out so I was able to get out of the plateau. Without this support, I may have not got out of this, and then never qualified for English Schools’ and then the Schools’ International event. Without this I would have had a very different season, and I am very grateful for the support I received from HTAS.
What is your favourite sporting moment, either as a participant or spectator and why?
At English Schools, in the fourth round, I stepped to the back of the runway, and found myself singing Wonderwall. I had no idea why I was doing this; it had never happened before in a competition, but I was in a really good mood there. I then started going, and threw as I had trained, and connected incredibly well with the javelin. As soon as I released it, I knew it was a good throw. I stood at the end of runway, my arms aloft, and watched it sail through the air before it landed in the grass of Gateshead stadium. 58.52m. I had put 3m on my personal best. I was ecstatic. I punched the air as I walked back to my kit, and was congratulated by my competitors, some of whom I had met on the training camp in Finland the week before. I then extended this distance in the 6th round to 58.93. As the competition ended, I was reminded by Edan Cole, who had won the competition, and now a good friend of mine, that we would get England kit. From that moment on, it was a blur, but that is the best moment I’ve had in sport.
What are your top tips for aspiring athletes?
Enjoy it. Do something because you love doing it. Put in the hours, and if you’ve got the dedication, the commitment, and if you listen to your coach, the results will come.
Who is your sporting hero – and why do they inspire you?
Andreas Thorkildsen. He is double Olympic champion, Olympic record holder (90.57), double European champion, and World Champion. He is the first male javelin thrower to have held all these titles at the same time. His PB is 91.59, and whilst this might be 7m short of Jan Zelezny’s world record, it is his style that impresses me most. When he throws, he looks so calm and relaxed, as if he doesn’t have a care in the world. He is astoundingly laid back – he threw 89.26m wearing a bobble hat! This relaxed, effortless throw is what I aspire to recreate when I throw. I was lucky enough to meet Andreas Thorkildsen at a Loughborough javelin training camp thanks to HTAS, and was completely in awe of him.
Who has most influenced your success – and why how have they done so?
My coach, Mark Bradford, has been incredible. He took over the javelin group at Andover AC midway through the 2015 season, and the results in my throwing were immediate. That year, after just weeks with him, I put 4m on my PB, but then after a whole season working with him, I put 15m on my PB the year after. I have so much to thank my coach for: the tireless hours he spends both at and away from training sessions working for the group, the work he does to link coaches around the UK to give us the best training we could hope for, and his dedication and love for the event that is common throughout the group. My coach has been amazing, and I don’t think he gets enough recognition for the work he does.
How has the Hampshire Talented Athlete Scheme helped you with your sport?
As mentioned before, the training camp I’ve gone to in Finland, and the Loughborough training camps were thanks to the Hampshire Talented Athlete Scheme, as well as the sports psychology lectures that got me out of my plateau last year. In addition, HTAS has allowed me free gym access which has meant that I have been able to add extra training sessions into my week at the gym when my coach is unavailable. This has meant that I have increased my training hours and made more progress as a consequence. I would not have been able to do this without HTAS and I am very grateful for this as well as the financial support and lecture opportunities.
Which 3 words best describe you?
Dedicated, Committed, Driven.