Jacko Gill overhauls approach and targets Tom Walsh victory in 2017

Chris Skelton/FAIRFAX NZ

New Zealand shot putter Jacko Gill has decided to push himself to compete in more competitions in 2017

New year, new Jacko Gill.

While others at this time of year make bold resolutions about diet, smoking or the like, Gill's comes in the form of overhauling his approach to competing, and training.

Unlike many of us, Gill will stick to his quest. Expect to see much more of the Kiwi shot putter in 2017.

New Zealand shot put star Jacko Gill has overhauled his training and is keen to get a win over rival Tom Walsh this year.
Chris Skelton/FAIRFAX NZ

New Zealand shot put star Jacko Gill has overhauled his training and is keen to get a win over rival Tom Walsh this year.

Over the course of his seven-year professional career there have been times Gill has only been sighted on five occasions in one season.

This year the North Shore-based Olympian will ramp it up by competing as much as possible, starting at a small Hastings meeting on January 14.

"I'm looking to compete 20 times this year, if not more. The domestic season it's a lot easier to compete as you don't have to travel," Gill says after blasting out Kanye West on a sun-drenched training day at the Millennium Institute of Sport.

That's not all. Gill has set himself some significant goals, after making his first Olympic final while nursing a fractured foot last year.

Top of that list include trumping Timaru's Olympic bronze medallist Tom Walsh at the nationals in March, when American gold medallist Ryan Crouser, who threw a record 22.52 metres in Rio last year, is also expected to turn out.

Gill set his personal best of 20.83m last year. His first task is to knock off the 20.5m qualifying mark for the World Championships in London in August, and next year's Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.

"It would be good to get the qualifying out the way and then push on from there. It would be nice to get a victory against Tom and throw 21 metres. That would be a perfect domestic season.

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"Competing against the best in the world is what we do; to try and beat these guys. I love the competition. I'm looking to target nationals and try get my first national senior title.

"The Olympic gold medallist may also be coming over so I'll be competing against two Olympic medallists from Rio. I can't wait to compete against them."

Athletically, you would be hard pressed to find a stronger athlete in New Zealand than Gill.

His output for traditional power exercises such as bench press (246kg without a spotter), full squat (271kg), power clean (185kg), behind the neck jerk (200kg) and snatch (133kg) are phenomenal.  

Throw in the fact he can run the 100m at a tick over 11 seconds - not bad for a bloke who sits between 118 to 124kg - and it's easy to see why the 22-year-old's potential in shot put remains scary.

But along with his shift in competing this year, Gill realises his mentality needs to change from pure strength to applying force at speed. Get strong throw far is no longer the favoured method.  

With that in mind, he's assembled a team that features his parents, long-time coach Kirsten Hellier, High Performance Sport NZ biomechanics coach Mike Schofield and former NZ Olympic sprinter Mark Keddell.

Gill now appreciates he can't achieve his goals alone.

"Right now I'm looking to train a bit differently and think about how I can move that ball faster. That's the challenge to improve. It's not about how heavy you can lift it's about how fast you move the 7kg ball."

The first 16-year-old male to throw 20m, Gill hasn't kicked on as many had hoped. But his fresh outlook and renewed drive towards this next four-year cycle has him well placed to mount a surge.

"As a junior I put a lot of pressure on myself. Everything was around distance and how fast I could do it but now it's about the process, technique, staying injury free and doing everything properly. I'm finally there now.

"I've learnt a lot about myself and the sport. I'm in a really good place now. I know what I've got to do to throw far. Before I was training hard and putting in the effort but there was no real science behind it. I just put in the effort. Now we've got a team and we've got a plan in place."

Gill's could be one resolution worth watching unfold. 

 - Stuff


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