Connor Bell concedes he used to be a fat kid who spent all day on his Play Station. A handful of years later the Westlake Boys’ High School student heads to the Junior Commonwealth Games in the Bahamas as the top ranked Under-17 discus thrower in the world.
Bell has a personal best of 63.93m with a 1.5kg discus. His nearest rival from Great Britain has thrown 63.48m. The present games record is 64.14m.
“My grandad and Dad were both good athletes. Dad was a sprint champion at Dilworth College and ran a low 11 seconds for the 100m. One day I turned up to a discus competition and won by a big margin. I was recognised by a club coach and got into it after that,” Bell recalls of his original involvement in the sport.
Bell hails from Kaukapakapa just north of Auckland. He might have been harsh on himself when he said he was idle. He had tried a range of sports including football, rugby, cricket and even motocross attempting to find his niche.
“I had a couple of concussions in motocross and even managed to split a helmet open in a crash so I guess that wasn’t going to work,” Bell laughs.
It’s almost a laughing matter how far ahead of the discus throwing competition Bell is in New Zealand. The National Under-18 and 20 champion won the intermediate National Secondary Schools title in December by over 20-metres. He is also the Australian Under-18 champion.
How does Bell avoid complacency?
“I am training six times a week and always looking to improve. I guess you are competing against yourself sometimes, but I enjoy the challenge of always trying to improve.”
Any slacking won’t be tolerated by Bell’s coach, two-time Olympic shot-put champion Dame Valerie Adams. Bell has a special relationship with the three times Halberg award winner.
“Val is on a break from competition because she is pregnant, meaning I get to see her three times a week. That is awesome. She is so relatable, generous, passionate and professional.”
Bell has been working with Adams for the best part of a year after a connection with a previous coach.
Bell is unconcerned about the searing heat in the Bahamas saying he enjoys hot weather and his throw only takes a few seconds anyway.
The Junior Commonwealth Games are held from July 19-23.
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