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Chris Rattue is a sports columnist for the New Zealand Herald.

Olympics: Javelin ace confident about prospects

After a solid build up, Stuart Farquhar rates himself a medal chance in London, his third Olympics. Photo / Christine Cornege.
After a solid build up, Stuart Farquhar rates himself a medal chance in London, his third Olympics. Photo / Christine Cornege.

The Herald finally got its man, but not without a battle.

"Don't mention the family," says our javelin ace Stuart Farquhar, after finally agreeing to an interview.

The Olympics-bound Farquhar, the No 1 ranked javelin thrower in the world during May, has a contract with a women's magazine which limits his media involvement until the story is published. There were still restrictions in place when we talked this week after he returned from an overseas build-up to the London Games.

Such is the dilemma for a cash-strapped sportsman. Farquhar wants to boost his profile, but needed the instant cash. And as Farquhar concedes, he still walked around Hamilton in comparative obscurity despite the late-April throw of 86.31m in Japan putting him on top of this year's rankings.

The 30-year-old returned this week from a three-meeting campaign in the United States and Europe, which started well with a third placing in a strong field in the Prefontaine Classic.

The Czech Vitezslav Vesely took over the top ranking with an 88.11m throw at Oslo and in response, Farquhar was well down on his best in Europe where he failed to break 80m.

Rather than being daunted, Farquhar was buoyant about London - his third Olympics - where he rates himself a medal prospect.

"You know when someone has done a big throw because the javelin flies a little differently," said Farquhar about Vesely.

"It was early in the year and a few guys hadn't competed or found their mark yet so I knew it was coming - 86m would have put me sixth last year so it was inevitable that someone would go further.

"I actually thought it was about time - it is quite nice to have the motivation to lift your game again. I guess it's nice to have something to chase rather.

"I was making technical adjustments which can be trial and error and your throwing gets hurt if they don't work."

Farquhar, raised on a Te Aroha farm and schooled in Cambridge, was a cricket loving teenager who made the Northern Districts teams. After picking up a javelin in the third form and immediately breaking a St Peters school record, there was always the chance he would leave cricket.

Farquhar, coached by Debbie Strange, is in a league of his own in New Zealand where he must contend with the pitfalls of being the lonely athlete at times. The 12-times national champion operates without competitive javelin partners - he has been training in the gym with rower Nathan Twaddle - and travels the world to seek competition.

Until this year, he worked part time in a hotel front office but his climb up the world rankings has eased a dicey financial situation. Looking at his record, the mission is clear: he has yet to crack the 80m mark when it counts most and needs to find at least one of his big throws on the biggest stage.

"As you break into the top 16 and go higher the funding from places like Sparc improves but I've always had to operate day to day which has been tough at times," says Farquhar.

"I guess considering the money situation, I've thought about quitting at low points when you have injuries and long rehabilitation periods, but I've been improving every year which has motivated me.

"The Athens Olympics was a huge shock, my first major competition, but I had a good throw of 83m before going to Beijing although injuries inhibited me there.

"I've got the experience now, the two Olympics, world championships and the Commonwealth Games silver medal. I've got the capabilities to medal in London. I've thrown 86m which is a medal area. I've got the confidence now."

- NZ Herald

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