Andrew Alderson

Andrew Alderson is a sport writer for the Herald on Sunday.

Athletics: Gill to go ballistic in pursuit of world best

Junior world champ eyeing Comm Games despite lingering effects of ankle injury

Since sustaining an ankle injury, Jacko Gill has rewritten and rejuvenated his training programme. Photo / Dean Purcell
Since sustaining an ankle injury, Jacko Gill has rewritten and rejuvenated his training programme. Photo / Dean Purcell

New Zealanders might have to wait another year to see Jacko Gill unleash his potential on shot put's premier international stage.

The 18-year-old has suffered ongoing effects from an ankle sprain last year, not to mention recovering from 20 stitches round the bridge of his nose when he tried to break up a dog fight.

Gill put in a heavy training stint in Sweden during April and, at a Queensland meet on July 20, he will look to qualify for next month's world championships in Moscow. Even if the youth world record holder passes the 20.10m B qualifying mark (20.60m is the A mark) he is considering opting out of selection because he mightn't have the pedigree to make the final. He doesn't want to qualify and then struggle to do the decision justice.

Gill's best throw with the 7.26kg senior shot is 20.38m, set in December 2011. That would have placed him 12th at the Olympics, eighth at the 2011 world championships and fourth at Thursday's Diamond League event in Lausanne.

Instead, Gill has an eye on the Glasgow Commonwealth Games next July and the Beijing world championships the following August. He is also aware of the rising force in 21-year-old Tom Walsh of Timaru who was 1cm short of qualifying for Moscow. Walsh threw 19.61m in Lausanne this week, missing a crucial opportunity to stake a claim for a world championships spot.

Gill is currently training at home. Father Walter says his son has received good injury recovery treatment from Athletics New Zealand as well as a decent chunk of budget to get him to Sweden.

Gill produced a Rocky-themed video of his experience. He stars with a spot of wood chopping, clean and jerking a tree trunk, running through thigh deep snow and lifting a puppy as a dumbell. Whatever becomes of Gill's shot put career, a job in advertising seems imminent.

"Yes, he's got another one of those [videos] coming out soon," says Walter Gill. "He does a standing jump of about 1.45m but his foot injury has been hard to shake off. It affects him most when he slams it against the stop board at the front of the circle.

"However, he's rewritten and rejuvenated his programme and his powerlifting, bench pressing and squats have increased. His jumping has as well; he's more explosive. You can be as strong as you like but you've got to have ballistics.

"He's also got a bit bigger - to 118kg. We're hoping size will provide the final bits in the puzzle to take him to the top. It could be the difference between reaching a world championships qualifying mark of 20.10 or not."

Gill is coached by 1994 Commonwealth Games silver medallist Courtney Ireland who took over from Val Adams' former coach Didier Poppe. "They talk on the same level," Walter Gill says. "It's not about coach and boy but rather two people discussing issues."

- Herald on Sunday

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