Hammer thrower Chris Bennett gained Olympic and European qualification last summer and he told Eilish McColgan about the training and lifestyle that made it happen
I played a lot of rugby as a kid. One of my friends invited me along to his athletics club to keep fit over the summer. Initially, I hated it. Then I saw someone training for the hammer so I asked to join in. My first few attempts didn’t go too well and I would end up really dizzy, but I stuck at it.
I live 400 miles away from my coach, Mick Jones. It’s an interesting coaching relationship because of the distance between us. I started working with him in 2013, after the death of my previous coach, Chief Inspector Alan Bertram MBE.
In the lead up to the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, I decided to become a full-time athlete. I receive financial support from both Scottish Athletics and Sport Scotland which allowed me to take the step. I also do a little bit of coaching work for my club Shettleston Harriers and I help with the organisation of elite fields at the Great Run events.
Tough people last, tough times don’t. I had lost both my coach and my dad in the 18 months leading up to the Glasgow Games. The thing I had wanted most in the world was for both of them to see me throw at the Games. It was a difficult time and I really let it get to me. But in some respects it taught me so much about myself and helps me every day to become a better person and a better athlete.
I enjoy two parts of training; throwing and squatting. When it comes to squatting I love nothing more than getting the music up really loud in the gym and squatting some big weights.
I’m one of the shorter hammer throwers and so I find it easy to lift big. For instance this year (2016) I’ve done 220kg for 10 reps and 270kg for three reps.
I get up at least five hours before I’m due to compete. I’m not a morning person, so it usually takes me a good while to feel up and ready. I also tend to train the morning of a competition, just three to four throws. It almost acts as a warm up and makes the afternoon session feel much better and I tend to throw a lot further.
We hammer throwers have to battle against a lack of competitions on the world circuit. We get a lot less coverage than any of the other events in the Diamond League which results in less sponsorship and kit supplies. All we ask for is equality and inclusion, not some weak excuse that our event isn’t safe for the stadiums and tracks. It’s safe for the major championships, so what difference is there in the Diamond League?