As part of our young athlete series, AW speaks to a young javelin thrower on the rise
Javelin thrower Harry Hughes was beaten only once in 2013 when he finished third at the World School Games in the Czech Republic.
After this terrific season the 16-year-old credits the support he has received from the Ron Pickering Memorial Fund, as well as the UKA Futures programme and Mid Suffolk County Council for helping him go to No.2 on the UK all-time under-17 rankings 72.77m behind David Parker.
With another year in the age group, he looks poised to break the UK age group record in 2014.
Reflecting on a year which saw him win English Schools, SIAB Schools International, Sainsbury’s School Games and England Athletics under-17 titles, as well as claim an international medal in the Czech Republic, the West Suffolk athlete says: “I started to get into the flow of the major competitions. At this age it’s all about getting the experience, and you also gain so many friends.
“I feel honoured to have won all the major domestic titles and I really enjoyed representing England Schools in Dublin and Czech Republic, but throwing my PB was the major highlight.”
In a year with no international championship for Harry’s age group, the UK under-17 record is the obvious target, but he has adopted a mature attitude to his throwing. “It would be nice to break some records, but they will only be a bonus for me!” he says.
“Being remembered for breaking records at this age isn’t important. I would rather make it to the top level as a senior.
“This year’s targets will just be to try and maintain last year’s titles, and to throw a bit further. I also have my GCSEs, so getting good grades is another target.”
Harry trains with coach Mike McNeill twice a week in Bury St Edmunds, along with a small group of other throwers including Bonne Buwembo and Commonwealth heptathlon bronze medallist Grace Clements. He also trains three times a week at his local gym in Stowmarket called NRG.
“I really stepped my training up last year,” he adds. “I changed my throwing technique and started to get some power into the throw, after learning some of the basic Olympic lifts.
“Mike has some great contacts and I have trained with Goldie Sayers and can also see Mark Roberson for sports massages and strength and conditioning advice. I am very grateful to Mike, as well as Ray Radley who started all of this for me.”
He adds: “I am trying to develop my core and all round conditioning, as well as improving all technical aspects so I avoid injuries in the future.”
Harry was also undefeated in the discus last year, but adds: “I need to specialise more now and won’t be messing around with a discus as much in training!”
You can find further performance stats on Harry on Power of 10 here.
» Support young athletics via the Ron Pickering Memorial Fund, see rpmf.org.uk