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campbell set for european cup winter throws

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Taylor Campbell

13 March 2015

This weekend, a team of six throwers will descend on Leiria, Portugal for the European Cup Winter Throws. Taylor Campbell (coach: Paul Dickenson) will be making his debut in a U23 hammer competition and has long-term aspirations to progress the event in this country.

The 2014 IAAF World Junior finalist belongs to a sporty family – his brothers compete in athletics; one a former GB & NI 400m runner at the European Youth Olympic Festival, and his younger brother, Bayley, is ranked number one U15 in the UK in the hammer last year. The 18 year-old will be aiming to add more accolades to the family collection this weekend as he takes on some of the best hammer throwers in Europe.

“I’m very optimistic about it. I’ve had a good winter leading into it, so it is good to get the opportunity to compete in a big competition outdoors,” Campbell said.

“It is great to be trusted to compete in the age group. It’s a step up in weight as well, not just competing against older people.”

Campbell will throw the 7.26kg hammer in the U23 event this weekend, 1.26kg heavier than the junior hammer he threw last year in Eugene. However, Campbell is not fazed by the change in weight and is looking forward to making the step up in Portugal.

“I’ve had this in my plan throughout the winter. I’ve thrown it before, setting the British U17 hammer record so I’ve had a lot of experience throwing with it. My timing is good, so all the technical adjustments I’ve made suit the heavier weight.”

The Sports Science student flew out to sunnier climes in Leiria, a week prior to the event and was joined by team mate Mark Dry, who won the Commonwealth bronze medal last year. Both athletes are using their time to acclimatise, and Campbell is pleased with his preparations ahead of his first appearance of the year.

“I started a new block of training a week ago, so I’m now in a power phase to get me ready for competition. I went out to Portugal early to get used to the heat and more switched on with the technique. The bigger throws will come later in the season but I’m in good shape now and can get even better.”

Campbell emphasises the importance of having excellent technique as a necessity to be a successful hammer thrower, and believes that some people’s perception of the stereotypical hammer athlete are far from the truth. He points to his sporting idol, Japanese Olympic and World hammer champion, Koji Murofushi, who has a very similar build to Campbell at 6’2 and 99kg.

“People perceive throwers to be these big people – I’m tall (6’4) but not the biggest and strongest of guys, however, I’ve got good technical ability and rhythm. Not many throwers actually match the stereotype.”

“He’s (Murofushi) by far the most technically gifted athlete – he is athletically insane. You want to aspire to be an athlete like him. He is not the typical perception people have of hammer throwers – he is not very big and looks an athletic person.”

Campbell is supported by the British Athletics Futures Programme which gives support to athletes and their coaches across the year. The WSEH athlete is thankful for the support which helps him to progress in his event as he aims to emulate the achievements of his sporting idols.

“The Futures support is really good and I get the TASS funding alongside that. Financially it really helps me to train in Loughborough alongside my family’s support. I’m receiving nutritional guidance as well. I came here in September weighing 90kg and now I’m 100kg, and it was important to make sure that was all good weight, and not just fat. It’s these small things that help to teach you more about your sport.”

Campbell has a bright future ahead and will be hoping that a good performance this weekend will set him up for a medal push over the summer at the European Junior Championships in Sweden.

“That is the ultimate goal. If I can improve my PB from last year, which I think I am capable of, and get myself into medal position, that will be very exciting. There isn’t much emphasis on qualifying for the Championship but getting ready to peak at the European Juniors.”

The 18 year-old said reaching the World Junior final last year and finishing ninth in the final gave him a confidence boost over the winter. He is excited to be involved in the GB & NI team environment again in the near future.

“World Juniors was an amazing experience. Last year was all about trying to qualify for it but to throw two metres over the qualifying standard, reach the final and finish ninth was great. Going to the holding camp and hanging out with the other athletes was a really good experience as well.”

Campbell is a forward-thinking athlete and has long-term plans to target British teams for many years to come. 
Aiming to make the team for London 2017 and Tokyo 2020 are seen as ‘short-term’ goals, but he sees himself peaking in a few Olympics’ time.

“You’ve got to have your head switched on and think about where you want to go to. You’ve got to have these long term targets – the European Juniors sounds good this year but it’s not the be all and end all.

“These are the short term goals (London 2017 and Toyko 2020). I’d say I’m not going to peak until I’m 28 – I don’t want to be throwing my best at 26 and then not improve. The 2024 Olympics is where I’ll be aiming to be at my best but it’s good to have that foundation laid now.”

Follow Taylor’s progress on Twitter @TaylorLC1996

Keep up to date with the European Cup Winter Throwing results here.