Victorious Jacko Gill will 'go for gold' in Glasgow
Teenage shot put sensation Jacko Gill has no regrets at pulling out of Olympic Games contention to focus on retaining his world junior title.
That's the clear message from Gill's coach, Didier Poppe, after his prodigy's bid for back-to-back world junior titles ended in success.
Gill not only retained the under-20 world title he won so astonishingly as a 15-year-old in Canada two years ago, he set a world championships record in the process as he dominated his opposition in Barcelona.
Five of his six throws were good enough to win the competition – his best was 22.20 metres – securing a third world title in three years, having won the world youth (under-18) crown last year in France.
In April, the 17-year-old from North Shore pulled himself from Olympic contention, preferring to concentrate on retaining his junior title to avoid uncertainty over his programme after Athletics New Zealand did not name him in the initial Games team.
Poppe said from Barcelona yesterday that Gill had "absolutely" no regrets over that decision, saying his charge would not have been as well prepared for his title defence had London also loomed on the horizon.
"Some people would've liked him to go to London for experience, but that's not the way it is."
The question of whether Gill would have performed as well in Barcelona had he been also preparing for London was a "difficult one", Poppe said.
"It would have been a real challenge to combine to two objectives at this level. London, for him, was more about participation, but people would have expected more of him.
"I think, quite wisely, his focus became this. He will have a chance to compete at senior level next year at the world championships."
Gill, who had not competed for four months, was disappointed not to have threatened German David Storl's world record mark of 22.73m, set three years ago, or even eclipsed his own PB with the 6kg shot of 22.31m.
However, all six throws in the final were in excess of the previous championship record and his best effort was 42cm better than the second-placed Pole, Krysztof Brzozowski.
"It was expected that Jacko would win this, but it was not expected to be easy," Poppe said. "The Polish guy threw well so it became more of a competition rather than a record attempt, so it was a good experience for him.
"There is plenty of time for records, but he had to win today."
Gill has another 18 months in the junior ranks, and Poppe was confident he would crack the 23m mark.
But he'll also make the step up to senior level next year, with the world championships in Russia in his sights.
It's in Moscow that he could well meet Storl for the first time.
The German is one of only 10 athletes to have won a world title at youth, junior and senior levels after becoming the youngest-ever shot put world champion in South Korea last year, at the age of 21.
Gill is also eyeing the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, where he wants to "go for gold".
- © Fairfax NZ News