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scott moorhouse interview

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Scott Moorhouse

11 August 2011

Scott Moorhouse - fourth in the 2011 IPC Athletics World Championships - is ranked second in the World this year after a 47.33m lifetime best throw in the F42 javelin this summer and is the latest athlete to be featured on UKA’s website (below) as part of an ongoing series focusing on UKA’s World Class Performance Programme (Paralympic) athletes in the countdown to the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

F44 discus World Champion and World Record holder Dan Greaves, four times Paralympian Stephen Miller, F44 long jump World Record holder Stefanie Reid, Beijing Paralympic Games multi-medallist Shelly Woods, IPC World Champions Libby Clegg and Katrina Hart and Hart’s training partner Ben Rushgrove - also a medallist in the 2011 IPC World Championships - have previously been featured.

Scott Moorhouse was working in Telecommunications when his boss heard a radio promotion for a ParalympicsGB Talent Day in London and gave him the day off to go along. He stood out from the crowd on that occasion and was selected to progress in a number of sports, including cycling, rowing and wheelchair basketball, but it was athletics that inspired him.

He’s now ranked second in the world in the F42 javelin with a lifetime best mark of 47.33m and has deferred his final year of university in Essex to focus on the London 2012 Paralympics. That, in part, embodies the spirit and ambition of Paralympic sport; elite level performance coupled with expectation and unpredictability. This time last year he’d barely pulled on a British vest for the first time.

Moorhouse - who lost his leg at six weeks old after being burned - arrived on the domestic athletics scene with a bang last summer when he threw 41.25m in his competition debut at an Aviva Parallel Success event in Wales; 12 months and six metres later, he has all the attributes of a world class thrower and is a realistic medal contender in the Paralympic Games. It’s been an exciting transition he puts down to the development of a brilliant support network and perhaps more specifically, his coach Dan Pfaff.

“My PB was quite a surprise really, especially after taking three weeks off to study,” says Moorhouse.  “I’d never thrown further than 45m and I threw 45.75m in my summer season opener in Holland. I’d literally flown out the day before the competition and I was so tired after 24 hours a day of studying in the library, but I threw three times over my PB that day which was consistent and I was really pleased with that, it’s nice to know you’ve got some consistency and it’s not just a fluke throw.”

That was only the start however, as he returned to the UK - in fact to Cardiff where it all began - and threw even further a fortnight later, exceeding the 47m mark for the first time in his career and making a significant move towards the sharp end of the global rankings.

“It’s pretty much all down to the new technique I’ve been working on with Dan (his coach Dan Pfaff),” he continues. “We went out to Holland to focus on processes and it all came together which was brilliant, we were able to build on that in Cardiff and now I hope there’s a lot more to come.”

“The really encouraging thing is that we’ve not actually had that many sessions together and we’re already making gains, although in saying that, none of it would be possible without the work of my old coach Shelley Holroyd who also deserves a lot of credit; she brought me on massively from the day I picked up the javelin for the first time and she really taught me a lot. I’ve got a lot to thank her for.”

During his exams Moorhouse reduced his training schedule to three days per week out of UKA’s National Performance Centre at Lee Valley in North London, but with the end of term came the start of a new regime and having just moved into a new flat nearby, he has commenced a six days a week programme which he hopes will culminate in success next summer.

“The opportunity to be around coaches and athletes on a full time basis will be beneficial to me long term,” says the 22-year-old who was previously based outside of the capital. “I was mainly training on my own before and that’s just not inspiring. You’re also at risk of picking up bad habits.

“Being in London means that I have my support networks around me, I’m near home and I’m near my friends. I’m actually starting to change my lifestyle and it’s great to be in an environment with like minded people. I’m making new friends through athletics and in some cases I’ve started to drift away from my older friends.”

His training programme has also evolved and will soon involve some short, more explosive sprint drills to compliment his throwing technical work, all of which is made possible thanks to his new prosthesis.

“Since I’ve been at Lee Valley I’ve been working with UK Sport with a view to getting a new leg and I got my new Cheetah in July which has enabled me to do more running,” he says.

“Although I haven’t done much sprinting, I was told I had some potential during the Talent Programme so I know I’ve got a sprint base and I’m really excited about seeing it all come together and the impact it has on my javelin.

“I’ve never had that return off my left side before; the leg I had before didn’t give off any energy and it was amazing to have that feeling for the first time when I tried the Cheetah. All my power has previously come from my right leg, so with the new leg I should be biomechanically more efficient and I hope it improves the longevity of my career.”

“I’m obviously focused on 2012 and taking it quite seriously, which I think this proves. I’d like to medal, and I’d like it to be gold. I’m still on an upward curve and making progress so I think it’s something I can achieve.”

And his continually improving results are concrete evidence that just like his first outing to the Talent ID Day in London, he stands out from the crowd now too; come London 2012, that job might be made just that little but easier from the podium at the heart of the Olympic Park.    

You can also read these interviews on www.insideworldparasport.biz and The Independent Online; the series continues next month.