Oppressively hot weather and a largely unsuitable diet wasn't enough to prevent Connor Bell from reasserting his status as the best Under-18 discus thrower in the World at the Micronesian Athletics Championships in Vanuatu.
The product of Westlake Boys’ High School threw 64.47m in confirming his spot at the Junior Olympics in Argentina in October. If Bell repeats that throw he will break the youth Olympic record.
However Bell wasn’t entirely happy with his performance.
“64.47 is my third best throw. Last year at Secondary School Nationals I had two better throws of 65.63m my PB and 64.90m. I’m striving to throw 70-metres by the end of the year,” Bell complains.
He needed just three throws at the schools nationals in Hastings to break the meet record, with
Auckland Grammar School’s Herman Metuaiviivitoa second and Wellington College’s Sean Howe third.
In March this year he won the Auckland Secondary Schools senior discus title by a dozen metres, throwing a meet record 62.33m.
The hot and variable weather took some getting used to in Vanuatu.
“The sun was very energy sapping and the wind unpredictable. It took me awhile to adjust and warm to my work,” Bell reveals.
Much of local diet also contrasted with Bell’s needs.
“It was very starch heavy which isn’t the best for me. I had to be watchful of what I ate to be in the right condition to compete,” Bell explains.
Bell will be training six times a week in the lead up to Argentina. How does he intend on guarding against complacency?
“There is an Italian throwing 63 and a half metres and a Norwegian and Spanish thrower around 62 metres so I can’t afford to be complacent and have to keep working hard,” Bell responds.
Bell was being coached by Olympic shot put champion Dame Valerie Adams, but this has temporarily stopped with Adams on a recent competitive break after giving birth to her first child.
Bell is the under 18 and 20 national discus champion and had the world’s leading throw in 2017.
Bell perfected his technique by studying hours of video footage of German discus legends Lars Riedel and Robert Harting and Estonia's 2008 Olympic champion Gerd Kanter.
In his spare time Bell is interested in Biology and diving.
The Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games will be held from October 6 -18 with the participation of almost four thousand athletes from 206 countries.
New Zealand expects to send a team of up to 80 athletes to contest the third edition of the Youth Olympic Games
Read our previous story (2017) with Connor Bell at:
“My love of the 200 has drawn me back towards it. I’ve only ran it twice competitively in the last year, but my world ranking is better in the 200 metres than it is the 100 metres,” Dominic Overend explains of his sudden focus on 200 metres sprinting.
Last year an overgrown bone in the right heel led to surgery and a temporary abandonment of the 200 metres following difficulty turning around the bend.
In March, Overend’s greater concentration on the 100 metres resulted in him running a blistering 10.57s to win the U20 Australian Championships.
The Auckland Grammar School student recently qualified for the Junior Olympics in Argentina in October after winning the 100m/200m double at the Micronesian Athletics Championships in Vanuatu.
Battling a stiff breeze, Overend ran 11.02s in winning the 100m while he set a personal best of 21.54s in capturing the 200m title, a result achieved with only two competitive races.
In the U18 age group, Overend is ranked 50th in the world in the 100m and 24th in the 200m.
“The wind was really variable so when I ran the heat of the 100 I clocked 10.83 as opposed to 11.02 in the final 45 minutes later. In the heats of the 200 my coach [Matthew White] told me to take it easy so I qualified second,” Overend reveals.
Overend, whose grandfather was a national triple jump and sprint champion, dropped competition a month prior to Vanuatu to prepare for the 200. Increasing the “volume of his output” and enjoying the assistance of a slight tailwind paid dividends.
“There was only a short break between the heats and the finals which was a good because it didn’t allow the nerves to build up too much. I was happy with my start and my foot held up well so it felt good down the straight. It hasn’t sunk in yet that I’m going to the Olympics,” Overend enthused.
Overned will spend most of the winter training with his next target Mark Kendal’s U18 200m record of 21.37s.
At this stage Overend will be joined in Argentina by fellow Kiwis Connor Bell (Westlake BHS) and Kayla Goodwin (Sacred Heart College, Hamilton).
Bell threw 64.47m (an Olympic Youth record) in claiming the Micronesian discus title while Kayla Goodwin of Hamilton who turned 17 on 24 April, set two New Zealand age group records with her winning performance and PB of 12.62m in the triple jump. This breaks Bridgette Pateman’s 1997 U18 record of 12.45m and Pateman’s 1998 U19 record of 12.60m. Goodwin also had a PB in the long jump with her third placing of 5.78m.
Read our previous story with Kayla Goodwin in February this year here:
World U18 Records
100m: Anthony Schwartz (USA) - 31/3/2017, Gainesville, Florida - 10.15
200m: Usian Bolt (Jamaica) - 20/7/2003, Bridgetown, Barbados - 20.13
World U18 Best Times 2018
100m: Sachin Dennis, 16, (Jamaica), 23/3/18, Jamaica - 10.20
200m: Sean Burrell, 16, (USA), 18/4/2018, USA - 20.77
College Sport Media is dedicated to telling the story of successful young sportspeople in New Zealand