Meet Taylor Campbell.
He is a Team GB hammer thrower with a huge future ahead of him. In 2015, Campbell broke the British junior record ten times on eight different occasions.
Originally from Windsor, he is currently combining his sporting goals through athletics with studying for a degree at Loughborough University.
Rio 2016 has come too soon for the 19 year old who is currently ranked eighth in the world in the under-23 age group. However, he is more than on course to be at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
I spoke to him about how he got into his event, his sporting journey so far, what his training routine involves, and his main targets for the future.
Tell me about your athletics career to date: how did it start, at what age, and what made you get into hammer throwing?
I started athletics at the age of nine. My brother is a sprinter so I’ve always gone down to the track with him. But in terms of doing my event, I started that when I was 12. I tried a lot of the other events and I wasn’t enjoying them, but when I picked up the hammer I enjoyed it so I’ve been doing it ever since.
How old were you when you became part of the GB squad?
I was 17 I was part of the GB youth squad that went to World Youth Championships in Ukraine.
How often do you train, and do you find it physically demanding?
It’s massively demanding! I train six days a week and they’re all double sessions. So I’ll do 12 sessions in total – everything’s physically demanding. If you’re not in the gym you’re out throwing. It’s really tough.
What motivates you when the training becomes difficult?
For me,an Olympic gold. You’ve got to have your eyes set on that – everyone wants to win a medal. That’s the thing that motivates me and drives me through the hard sessions.
Where do you train?
I’m based up in Loughborough I train at the high performance centre which is the national governing bodies’ athletics training facility.
What time do you wake up and go to sleep?
It depends if I have lectures: it could 8.30am. If I have training I get up around 10am and get down to training for 11am, and I’m usually in bed by 10.30pm.
Do you stick to a specific diet plan?
There’s not so much a written plan. But for me I make sure I get the carbs in for the morning for energy and then for the rest of the day I eat a lot of protein. I go through about 12 eggs a day. It’s vital whilst training.
Do you have to be hard on yourself socially in terms of going out?
Yeah, I’ve got to really limit myself. Saturdays are the only time I go out really because Sundays is my only day off. I’ve got to be really strict with myself, especially around my mates, to keep myself in the right shape.
What criteria must you hit for you to qualify for competitions?
In athletics you have age groups at the moment I just moved up from the under-20 age group. Last year for me to go to the European Junior Championships, I had to throw 71.5m and I threw 78m so I was selected. Also, there is funding standards – you have to meet the criteria to get money, so for me to get the funding I’m on now I either had to get a medal at the European Juniors or a British record and I managed to get a British record.
What are your chances for Rio?
For me it is one Olympic cycle early. For my event you have to be mature physically and technically, so I’ve just got to be patient – we all peak at different ages. I wasn’t strong at a young age so I’ve just got to be patient and wait it out. 2020 is where I am looking at, definitely.
Who are the main rival countries that you compete against?
It is a very diverse event a lot of countries have good throwers. But the main competition probably comes from Hungary and Argentina.
How many hammer throwers are in a GB Olympic squad?
They take three people to the Olympics. It all comes down to who can throw the qualifying standard. It is tough, and British Athletics set the standards high. They don’t want to just take people to competitions, they want you to medal.
Are you superstitious?
I used to be like that, pack my bag a certain way, wear a specific pair of socks but not anymore. I’ve taken all of that out and just gone with my ability on the day really.
Finally, what has been your favourite moment as an athlete – something that you’ll never forget?
Probably making the World Junior finals in 2014. I was the youngest in the competition and I went in ranked 17th in the World and I came out ranked ninth, so yeah going up eight places was a great achievement for me.