Jon and I went back to Mile End stadium to meet up with the good folk from GLL – Mick Barlow, Richard Houlihan and Craig Lacy. Craig is GLL’s top throwing coach and one of the top ten javelin throwers in the country (he can throw 70m+ and is aiming to represent GB at the 2016 Olympics.)
After an extensive warm-up, we started working on our shot put technique. This involved a lot of exercises with a weighted ball to learn the component parts of the put. It was fascinating to see how much further we went as we added each extra element and started to use the whole body and not just the arm.
Eventually, Craig decided we were ready to move to the shot put circle and start some throwing an actual shot put. The first thing to say is that the shot is heavy – very heavy. An adult man’s shot put weights 7.26 kg and, if you don’t think that’s heavy, go to shop and pick up a 2 litre bottle of water. Now imagine shot putting something almost 4 times as heavy as that.
With our arms in poor shape after gymnastics and weightlifting earlier in the week, Jon and I elected to throw a 4kg+ shot. Arm strength helps but is really only part of the formula. Speed across the circle and technique are equally crucial. Despite lacking all those three qualities, with Craig’s help, I managed to improve my throws until I got to a little over 8 meters. At which point my arm was so tired that my distances started to falter.
Which seemed like an excellent time to move on to the javelin. Now, I quite fancied my chances at the javelin as throwing is one of the (very few) sporting activities I’m quite good at. I can, or at least I used to be able to, throw a cricket ball a long distance. The javelin – at 800gm – felt very light after the shot and is obviously aerodynamically designed to fly through the air. Surely I was about to unearth a hidden talent and cover myself in glory?
Well, not quite, In fact, not at all. There are subtle – but significant – differences between a ball throwing technique and a javelin throwing technique. Differences which I failed to master despite more goes than were good for my already ravaged right arm. My furthest throw was 23m – about the distance of a gentle under arm lob of a stone. Deeply frustrating but at least it left with me with a great desire to have another go at the javelin.
And once more, if you could find time to sponsor my challenge, it would be really appreciated. Cancer Research UK, NSPCC, Oxfam, Right To Play and Scope are all such fantastic causes, and I’m proud to be fundraising for them all: http://www.virginmoneygiving.com/dansgoldchallenge