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british u18 hammer record holder norris talks 2017

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Jake Norris

Jake Norris (Paul Dickenson) enjoyed a fruitful 2016, with a silver medal on the European Youth stage accompanied by eye-catching performances at both Loughborough and Manchester’s international meetings against senior opposition.

Coached by two-time Olympic hammer thrower Paul Dickenson, the 17-year-old climbed to second in 2016’s world U18 rankings with a lifetime best of 79.20m in July of last year, a throw which added over half a metre to his own U18 British record set in Loughborough earlier in the year.

Currently balancing training six times a week with studying at Desborough College in Maidenhead, Jake caught up with us to talk about his journey into athletics, as well as his hopes and expectations for the years to come.


Where does your relationship with athletics stem from? Was it a particular athlete or event which influenced you in regards to taking up the throws, and in particular the hammer?

My athletics career started when I was around 11 years old - this came about as my mum used to compete within athletics and used to be the Swiss national long jump champion when she was younger, so quite naturally I started off on the jumps and sprints.

After competing for Windsor Slough Eton & Hounslow Athletics Club] for a while I decided to try different events and enjoyed events like the javelin and discus, so I began to train for them too. Then, one particular time while I was training, my current coach was also training someone at the same time in the hammer, so I went over asked if I could have a go, and that was that.

How do you reflect on your 2016 season as a whole? You must be pleased with what appears to be strong and continued progression.

I’m really happy with how 2016 went - I believe that it was without a doubt the best season I have had to date, although I still believe that I can do better which is why I’ve upped my game in training in the hope of repeating such a good season next year (or the year after) with the 6kg hammer.

You earned your first international British vest with a call up for the IAAF World Youth championships in Cali, Columbia in 2015, finishing 7th in the final of the hammer. What did you learn, if anything, from competing against the best U18 athletes in the world?

In Colombia I think the biggest thing I gained was confidence; when entering the competition I was relatively small in frame compared to the other throwers as well as the youngest person on the GB team at the time, and I think the biggest doubt going through my mind was whether I deserved to be on the international stage at that time. The competition showed me that in all honesty I wasn't far behind and could still compete with the best.

You also competed at the European Youth championships in Tbilisi, Georgia back in July of 2016, throwing a PB of 79.20m to claim silver for the British team. Looking back, how did you find the competition as an overall experience? Did you head into the competition anticipating coming away with a medal as you did?

I went into the European Youths knowing that I had a very strong chance of winning a medal, however my confidence really took a knock a couple of days before the final I suffered pretty badly with sickness as a result of the food. I really think it affected me in the competition, even my coach and parents said I didn't seem myself aside from that one throw in the fifth round when it looked like I overcame everything and just relaxed, with that throw being my PB and medal winner.

Alongside the hammer throw you also, on occasion, compete within the javelin and discus. Are these disciplines you plan to continue sticking with? Are they also something you have considered competing within at major championships?

I think that I’ll continue to compete in both the javelin and discus, although it’ll be mostly for club matches - I don't train for either of the events as time is a big thing. I do believe, however, that results within both events will continue to improve as I develop physically while training for the hammer.

Sophie Hitchon’s Olympic bronze success in Rio - the first British Olympic medal within the discipline for 92 years - will have opened many people’s eyes to the Hammer as an event. What did seeing that achievement unfold do for you personally in terms of motivation?

Sophie's performance in Rio was amazing and really has increased the popularity of our event, especially in regards to the participation of younger girls. A lot of my motivation revolves around trying to be one of the best in the world and to be able to compete for medals on the biggest of stages, and Sophie's performance really reinforced that and destroyed any doubts that a British thrower can’t be one of the current best in the world.

Several athletes who were previously on the Futures programme have now gone on to become household names on both the Olympic & Paralympic side of the sport - how pleasing was it for you to be recognised for your progress with a spot on the 2016/17 programme?

I was really pleased when I as selected to be on the Futures Programme, not only because it recognizes my achievements, but also because it also makes me think ‘I really have something going on here’. To me it serves as a step closer to potentially turning this into my career.

Do you have any specific plans for the next 12 months competition-wise?

Over the next 12 months I would really like to qualify for and put pressure on athletes competing at the European Junior Championships in Italy [Grosseto, 20th-23rd July], as well as also aiming for championship records with the 6kg hammer and age records with the 7.26kg [senior weighted implement].

 

Jake Norris is one of 32 athletes supported by the British Athletics Futures Programme 2016/17.  “Futures”, supported by Nike, is a British Athletics support programme for emerging athletes and their coaches which underpins the World Class Performance Programme (WCPP). The 2016-17 programme runs from 1 December 2016 to 30 November 2017 and will continue British Athletics’ drive towards supporting the next generation of talent with more targeted support for athletes and their coaches.