New Zealand’s 16 year old shot put sensation Jacko Gill has stunned the athletic world with a record breaking performance to win the world youth title in Lille France.
Gill blitzed the field with three throws over 24 metres with the 5kg shot, to become not only the gold medallist but the first in the world to break the 24 metre barrier.
He had a finger injury going into the event, but Gill was delighted with his victory.
“It was good competition so I was really quite pumped, I just hit that first throw and the second was quite good so to know I was hopefully going to win the competition quite early was good,” said Gill.
Gill opened with 22.89m, and his record breaking throw came in round two with 24.35m, followed by 24.03m, 23.54m, 21.99m and 24.02m. He had easily qualified in the preliminary rounds, earlier in the day, with 20.75m.
He improves on his world best for a 16 and 17 year old of 23.86m, set at the New Zealand secondary schools championships in Hastings in December, and further extends his New Zealand M16 and M17 record.
Gill was exactly four metres better than his nearest rival Tyler Schultz of USA. The States also took the bronze with Braheme Days throwing 20.14m.
His rise to the top of the world again is the result of plenty of hard work.
“I had a break from school and I’ve just been training six or seven hours a day, that’s all I do. Plenty of fast bench presses and getting really fast, instead of that big typical strong shot putter build,” said Gill.
His feat of winning the world junior title after having the world junior title is one that only Usain Bolt has been able to manage before. He is the second Kiwi behind Valerie Adams to win the world youth and junior titles.
“Athletics isn’t the biggest sport in New Zealand, rugby is the big sport, but we’ve done really well, we’ve had Beatrice, Valerie, so many good throwers now and it is starting to get quite a lot bigger now and I’m pretty proud to follow in their footsteps, it’s really amazing,” said Gill.
While disappointed that his age precludes him from competing in the world senior championships in Korea next month Gill says that there is still plenty to aim for.
I’m going to compete in Stockholm (29 July) and try and beat the world junior record (20.65m for 18 year old and 21.88m for 19 year old, he already holds 15 year old with 18.57m and 16 and 17 year old with 20.01m).
“I’ve got a few other goals, I just want to train up for London, I really want to get a medal in London, so I’m going to give it everything I’ve got,” said Gill.
Also competing on day two of the championships was Joshua Hawkins who easily qualified for the semi-finals of the 110m hurdles after finishing second in the fifth and final heat in 13.71s (-0.6), the same time as the winner of his heat Lorenzo Perini of Italy. There was only one other athlete faster in the heats, Wilhem Belocian of France who won heat two in 13.70s (-0.7).