Story courtesy of College Sport Media
Wellington athletes earned three medals at last week’s Australian Junior Athletics Championships held in hot, sunny Brisbane last week.
Scots College’s Hugo Jones won gold in the U18 High Jump, Crimson School’s Josh Lotsu won silver with the NZ 4 x 100m team that also set a New Zealand U18 and U19 record, and Wellington College’s Heath Abbot was second in the U17 Hammer Throw.
Year 12 Hammer thrower Heath was pleased with his performance that he rated a “highlight” of a busy summer of competing in local and national meets and honing his craft in what is a highly specialist and technical event.
It wasn’t a trip entirely into the unknown for Heath. “The World Athletics rankings came out a bit before my trip, so I could see I was ranked third. Plus, I had competed in this meet in Sydney last year and finished fourth,” he added.
When combined with the U18 Hammer event at the same meet, Heath’s best throw of 52.27m was also good enough for fourth overall out of 16 starters (nine in his age group).
He achieved his best throw on his second throw of the event.
“It was the second longest throw I have ever done, so I was happy. My personal best of 52.73m [with the 5kg Hammer] was set at the Sola Power Throwers meet in February in the Hutt.”
That meet is hosted by the Sola Power Throwing Academy where he trains, under the guidance of his coach Phil Jensen, who is a 20 times New Zealand champion and a Commonwealth Games silver medallist in 2002.
Phil’s coaching is invaluable as Hammer is a deceptively difficult implement to throw; most natural sportspeople can pick up a Javelin, Shot or Discus and grasp it fairly quickly– but no one can pick up a Hammer and work out what to do with it.
“I started in 2020. I threw Discus and Shot Put before that, and I tried that out and found I was better at it so made it my main event.”
Heath also followed in the footsteps of older brother Max, who is also a thrower and competed in the Senior Men’s Discus and Shot Put at the Australian Senior Champs in Brisbane at the end of March.
There is a group of several Hammer athletes training at the Sola Academy, including brother and sister Alex and Elizabeth Hewitt.
Alex is a year older than Heath at St Pat’s Silverstream and won the New Zealand U18 title at the National Championships at Newtown Park in March. Heath won silver at the same event and also won silver in the U20 competition, which was won by Auckland’s Levi Pupualii
The U20 result – throwing 50.80m with the 6kg Hammer, up from 5kg in the U18 age group – was poignant as it was on his 16th birthday.
The following week he threw 60.27m with the 4kg implement at the College Sport Wellington Regional Championships, which broke the CSW Intermediate record by almost 10 metres.
Other highlights from the summer just finished was throwing the 4kg Hammer for 60.14m to break the Athletics Wellington M15 record by nearly 4 metres and winning silver in the Junior Boys at the NZSSA Championships in Taranaki in December.
He has also been part of Wellington College’s successful McEvedy team these past few years, and all going well will be back in 2024 to try and help them defend it once more. He throws Discus and Shot Put at McEvedy.
Of note, the Senior Men’s world record has been standing since 1986, when Ukraine’s Yurijy Sedykh threw the senior 7.26kg weight a whopping 86.74m.
Heath has a range of his own Hammers that he trains with of varying weights and that he sometimes competes with, while Hammer throwers wear a protective glove to protect the hand from the Hammer handle which bears a lot of weight.
With the athletics season over now, Heath turns his attention to playing basketball for Wellington College over the winter months.
Article added: Friday 28 April 2023
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