Javelinist Holly Robinson followed up her 2016 Paralympic silver with the same colour medal at the recent 2017 World Para Athletics Championships in London. Here the Kiwi, who hails from the West Coast, reflects on another successful season and her desire to upgrade to gold at next year's Commonwealth Games.

When competing at the 2015 World Para Athletics Championships a distance of 2.35m separated British gold medallist Hollie Arnold and bronze medallist Holly Robinson in the F46 women's javelin final.

At the 2016 Rio Olympics, the margin was reduced to 1.79m with Holly on this occasion winning silver. At the recent World Para Athletics Championships in London that gap was narrowed to just 61cm and it is Holly's profound wish next April at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games the Kiwi can reverse that finishing order.

It promises to be some clash between a pair who for several seasons have forged a fierce rivalry.


Rio had proved an unforgettable experience for Holly. Aged just 21 at the time, the woman who was raised in Hokitika was given the honour of carrying the New Zealand flag at the Opening Ceremony and achieved a personal best of 41.22m to win silver in the javelin.

"I had such an amazing time," she says reflecting on her Rio memories. "It is the one competition I can look back on that went exactly as I wanted it to. I had some really good throws, it felt good Winning silver at my second Paralympics was incredible."

Yet on her return to Dunedin, where she is based to be near her long-time coach and inspiration Raylene Bates, the young thrower found it tough.

Having worked towards a long-term goal such as the Paralympics for four years she admits experiencing a feeling of deflation and in the wake of winning silver pondered what next?

"I'd focused on one event for so long, I hadn't really thought about what I was going to do after," she says with typical honesty.

Yet after a period of contemplation she sat down with her coach and committed to competing at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics with her first big target on her road to Japan, the 2017 World Para Athletics Championships in London.

Buoyed by new levels of confidence following her Paralympic medal and also encouraged by her improved technical expertise she only slightly tweaked her training in the countdown to London.

"We were more mindful of focusing on more quality over quantity," she says. "One big thing we've changed is we've introduced more drill sessions and we work on those every day. So even before a gym session, I'll work on some sort of drill."

The ongoing work Raylene and Holly put in place reaped rewards as Holly enjoyed her best ever domestic campaign in 2017 securing victory at the New Zealand Championships in Hamilton with 42.54m and clinching the Australian title with 41.85m.

Her highlight of the domestic campaign, however, came at the Otago Championships when Holly launched the spear out to a lifetime best and national record of 42.68m.

"I was really satisfied with my PB at the Otago Championships," she says. "It was quite early on in the season and I don't really peak around that time. I had a really good competition that day and it was my best domestic season in terms of consistency."

In an effort to dodge the Dunedin winter chills, Holly and her teammates flew to Townsville in tropical Queensland in early June for a period of warm weather training before moving on to Fiji to compete and win at Oceania Championships.

Leading into the World Para Athletics Championships, Holly has consistently breached the 41m barrier, but it has been a far from perfect preparation. Hampered by an ongoing Achilles injury has been testing but taking a typically practical and no-nonsense approach she refuses to dwell on the problem, which she admits caused her pain in London.

"I couldn't do all the things I wanted to leading into London," she says. "I couldn't run a lot, but I realised there was no miracle cure, so I thought how can we minimise (the pain) in the short-term."

With the help of physio Jarrod Scott, the problem was managed and on her return to the same stadium where as a 17-year-old she had finished seventh on her Paralympic debut in 2012, she was ready to deliver.

Unfortunately, despite a successful warm-up she could not replicate that same aggressive approach during the early rounds as she produced relatively modest efforts of 39.91m, 38.92m and 38.47m for her first three throws to sit behind Arnold, who had unleashed a best of 42.13m.

In round four, Holly started to find her groove with a best of 41.83m - although the Briton responded to add 1cm to her world record set at the Rio Paralympics with a 43.02m much to the delight of the partisan home crowd.

In round five the New Zealander recorded 40.89m before saving her best for her sixth-round effort.

"I was technically and mentally at my best (for the last throw) and after releasing the javelin I thought this could be it (the gold medal-winning throw)," she explains. "The scoreboard was working for the three other field events and not the javelin so an official told me the distance. When he said 42.41m (just 27cm shy of her PB), I thought, aw. I knew if I'd fixed a few things, it could have gone a wee bit further."

Initially "disappointed" with silver because she wanted to throw further after being presented with her medal in the plaza outside of the stadium disappointment was soon replaced by pride.

"I had a good domestic season," says Holly, who works two days a week teaching fundamental movement skills to primary school kids. "I'd progressed a lot since Rio, but it was a still a good series and best distance. It was an amazing experience to win a silver medal and compete for the Silver Fern. I have positive thoughts now."

And those positive thoughts can be easily transferred to her next big challenge at next April's Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast.

Hugely excited to be given the opportunity to compete in the quadrennial multi-sports event, she is also lifted by the chance to take on her English rival during the Oceania domestic season.

"As a para-athlete we have limited opportunities to compete at the Commonwealth Games, so I am lucky that my classification will feature," she explains. "It is really exciting to tick the event off my list."

"I would like to win a medal, but anything can happen on the day. I'm just looking at a PB and throwing further than I ever have."

If that happens, the West Coaster will just hope, it is good enough on this occasion to grab gold.