My journey so far (Part II)

In the first part of ‘My journey so far’, I ended it by telling you how I came to the decision to try and get into athletics to throw the javelin. When I made that decision I thought it would be quite simple, I’d go to my local athletics club and start training with their field events coach, however I very quickly discovered that it wouldn’t be that simple.

Unlike most sports where you can just join a club and you’ll get a decent coach to help you develop and improve. I realised that finding a coach for javelin wasn’t as straight forward, in fact it turns out they’re a rare breed. I got frustrated very quickly, that this idea of mine, quite simply was going to fall through before I even started. I couldn’t find anyone to help me even start my journey in athletics.

I began to search online for the national coach for javelin and found David Parker, but I couldn’t find any contact details. So I desperately found him on Facebook and I explained my situation and asked if he could suggest someone who could help me. His response caught me off guard, asking me to come over to Loughborough, to see me throw. My initial thought when I read that message was;

What an opportunity!

So after a month of trying to reacquaint myself with the 800g metal implement, throwing at my local club. I nervously drove to Loughborough University to meet this figure head  of javelin in the United Kingdom, who had held the UK under 17 record for 18 years, which stood at 73.56m, until it was broken in 2014 by James Whiteaker. Understandably, I was extremely anxious to meet, yet alone throw, in front of someone who was once described as the next Steve Backley by  a commentator at the Junior World Championships, which he won in 1998.

Me with David Parker

Feeling out of place, in such elite facilities, walking past the sprinters Adam Gemili and Richard Kilty. I shook the northern man’s hand, clumsily spluttering out the words of formality, that tend to come so easily to me. Unaware at the time, I began to warm up in the alien environment, around numerous athletes who were some of the best in the country for their chosen events. Before going outside to throw, with the rest of his training group.

Being very uncharacteristically quiet, I kept to myself, whilst the others chatted away. I finally found my confidence to speak to a girl, Emma Hamplett. She had also come to see David for the first time that day and so I thought she was just starting up like me. I found I was very quickly back-tracking after realising I’d been very naive to the whole scenario again. I was speaking to the soon to be gold medalist of the Youth Commonwealths.

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Powerbase gym, Loughborough University

I felt very out of place, watching javelins fly so beautifully through the air, in complete awe of the whole situation, I didn’t really want to throw the thing I’d come all the way to Loughborough for. David asked me if I was going to throw, so I picked a javelin and got in place. I decided a run up wasn’t a good idea, after watching the others glide down the track so skillfully. So I stood there, feeling very small. I noticed the training group had gone quiet, with anticipation, to see how good I actually was.

Their anticipation was short lived.

I threw such an insignificant distance in comparison to the rest of the throwers there. My pride was on the line and started to try throwing the thing harder and further with a small amount of success. I felt like I’d let myself down and had screwed the opportunity up. So when David asked me what I wanted to get out of the day, I told him I was hoping he could suggest someone who could coach me, his response was that there isn’t really many coaches. My heart sank and my frustration built up very quickly again and had to stop myself from shouting these thoughts at him.

I want to throw and yet, there’s no one to help me!

I carefully phrased my frustrations and anxiously waited for his reply. He told me that he didn’t have anymore space in his group to coach me. The disappointment showed on my face. I’m sure you can imagine my elation and surprise when he suddenly said that I could come along to his weekend throwing sessions with his training group, so he could give me some pointers.

I went away feeling like I’d managed to kick start my plans for javelin and could hit the ground running, with David including me in his training group every weekend.

‘My journey so far’ continues here.

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One Comment

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  1. Scott knighton April 3, 2016 — 1:25 pm

    Another great read Leon sure many of us can relate to this.Brilliant coach and mentor he’s the gift that just keeps giving just what our great event needs at this point in time

    Liked by 1 person

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