New Zealand javelin thrower Ben Langton Burnell is going it alone.

The 27-year-old said parting with long-time coach Debbie Strange, who had helped him so much with the early part of his career, was a tough decision.

Langton Burnell said there was no bad blood and he was extremely grateful for the influence Strange had on his career since 2014.

He just felt he needed to head in a different direction with his training regime to keep up with international competition and to reach his goals.


"I am hugely thankful for what Deb has done where she took me. She is an amazing coach and I have had some amazing results," he said.

"There is certainly no bad blood. I've left on good terms. I just really felt I needed to do this at this time.

New Zealand javelin thrower Ben Langton Burnell
New Zealand javelin thrower Ben Langton Burnell

"It's just a decision I felt I needed to make. I want to become a student of the sport again," he said.

"As a more mature athlete you know what works and what hasn't worked in the past."

Technique was key, and in the absence of a coach now, he had set up a "selfie-stick" to record his training.

Langton Burnell knows within himself there is scope to improve. With more "ballistic" training he believed he could reach his peak in his early 30s, and hoped to become the first New Zealander to throw past 90m.

He knows the mark he has to reach to do it, and was also well aware of the stiff competition worldwide.

"Some of the guys I come up against are absolute freaks. They are massively strong and extremely ballistic. I know what I have to do," he said.


Prior to the outbreak of Covid-19 Langton Burnell had planned an overseas training sojourn to Australia, Turkey and Poland to compete and take in what the best javelin throwers were doing there.

Ben Langton Burnell training next to the cows in Levin.
Ben Langton Burnell training next to the cows in Levin.

But, after five days in Perth, his overseas training came to and end due to Covid-19. He headed home to the family farm and continued to train at the nearby Poroutawhao School during lockdown, before returning to his Hamilton base as restrictions eased.

The former student of Fairfield School in Levin originally took to the sport after being inspired by watching the 2008 Commonwealth Games on TV and seeing Stuart Farquhar throw for New Zealand.

At that time Langton Burnell, still a teenager at Palmerston North Boys High School, grabbed a javelin from the school's sports department and headed out onto the field.

From that day he hasn't looked back, winning gold medals at NZ and Oceania competition and qualifying for the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

As a teenager he was regularly throwing between 50m and 70m, and that potential saw a move to Hamilton in 2014 to join Strange and train alongside his idol Farquhar.


He had set some lofty goals post-Covid-19. He wanted to qualify for the next Olympic Games and beyond that set a course to qualify and medal at the next Commonwealth Games.

Langton Burnell wanted to steadily improve his world ranking in the coming years. His highest ranking has been 24th in the world.

There is no mistaking which car belongs to New Zealand javelin thrower Ben Langton Burnell.
There is no mistaking which car belongs to New Zealand javelin thrower Ben Langton Burnell.

He was aiming to peak in his early to mid-30s and would love to one day achieve the holy grail of the sport and throw beyond 90m - a throw that would put him among the very best-ever and eclipse the NZ record of 88.2m, set by Gavin Lovegrove in 1996.

Langton Burnell broke the 80m mark for the first time in 2017 to qualify for the 2018 Commonwealth Games, and that throw of 82.44 saw him gain selection for the NZ team to contest the World Track and Field Championship in London.

There would be life after javelin, through. Now a chartered accountant with a post graduate Diploma in Accountancy, he also had a Bachelor in AgriCommerce from Massey University.