Rio Paralympic sprinter Jacob Phillips is an emerging talent in the sport with a bright future. We found out more about the Athletics NZ Performance Potential Squad member from the Waikato as he answers our Five Minutes With questions.
Why and how did you start in the sport of athletics?
After winning a race at the Independence Games as a 13-year-old, I was approached by a couple of staff from Paralympics New Zealand who said I had potential and that I should apply for their Talent ID programme. I took them up on the offer and I started training seriously for athletics from the age of 15.
What was your first significant win?
My first significant win would've been at the New Zealand Secondary Schools' Championships in Wellington in 2011 as it was the first time I was recognised for my success and not my disability. I won gold in the 400m. I had only been training competitively for that year and it was my first exposure to a national event.
What was really cool was the recognition I received from my school - Hamilton Boys' High School. That recognition gave me a big push to want to succeed more.
What was your first major setback?
In 2015 I was tracking toward the IPC Athletics World Championships in Doha only to be diagnosed with stage 2 Hodgkins Lymphoma in February that year. This ruled me out of competing and training for most of the year. I knew something wasn't right because I was not feeling as healthy as I should, but I never expected to be diagnosed with a type of blood cancer. It was a shock, but I took it in my stride. I was quite lucky in that I only went through two rounds of chemo and the problem cleared. I was in remission following radiation in August of that year.
Best piece of coaching advice?
The best piece of advice a coach has ever told me is if you're going to do something, do it right. I originally received this from my first coach, Alan McDonald. It is a fairly robust piece of advice and it is something that has stuck with me.
What qualities do you think every athlete needs to succeed?
Determination for when things aren't going the way they should, and I also think gratitude is important. I am always very grateful for the people who have me helped me reach the current point in my athletic journey.
What is the most important thing you have learned from your time in the sport?
Take time to enjoy the journey. Often I used to be so caught up in the moment and the times I needed to run that I would forget why I was doing athletics.
What is the best thing about being an athlete?
Meeting the other amazing athletes from various countries. I have been very lucky to hear the different experiences of athletes from other parts of the world.
If you could have a superpower what would it be and why?
Super speed, it can't hurt to be able to run a bit faster
What is your hidden talent?
I am quite ambidextrous in that I can play cricket and golf both right and left-handed. I am left-handed, but I can pick up a cricket bat and golf clubs with both hands and it feels natural.
What would be your last meal?
Pasta. It is a pretty staple meal for me.
What is your greatest indulgence?
Colourful socks! I just think I always like to have a little bit of colour when I train. I can't go wrong with colourful socks! I have socks with stripes, spots and even umbrellas and dogs on them and various other gimmicky things. I don't always compete with them, but I do bring them out in training.
If you could have three dinner party guests, who would they be and why?
Steven Adams - because I am amazed by the work he has put in to get to where he is in the NBA today
Richie McCaw - because of his hardworking and selfless attitude
Will Ferrell - because I'm a big fan of his movies.