|Jacko Gill at the family residential property in Devonport|
And how is the building up of this precocious champion? All his close family are accomplished sportsmen. Father Walter Gill was twice a national champion at the shot put discipline back in the eighties and his wife Nerida also won the title at the discus. Finally, the older sister Ayla is a hammer specialist who is studying at Texas University. She got the 6th place in Moncton, when his brother became world junior champion. The progenitors soon discovered their son have inherited all the best family genes and made him practise all kind of sports from soccer to basketball, karate or boxing; yet excluding deliberately rugby, because they did not want Jacko to join the All Blacks but to follow their steps on the athletic field circle. The parents did not need to force him too much. One day, the Gill’s 11-year-old kid told daddy he intended to do a shot put marathon; that is to see how many attempts he could manage with the shot in the time a marathon runs. After a couple of hours of throwing he required some plasters for his damaged tip fingers and kept still putting for about 60 minutes. It is worth to say his best throw of the day was not reached until the 268th effort! To say he is fanatical about his sporting passion is bordering on understatement. Suffice to remember, when the son was misbehaving, the father used to punish him forbidding throwing for a week, instead of locking the videogames as it would be normal for a boy of his age. (3)
Jacko Gill Training (Vimeo) from JoséNunoJacko on Vimeo.
Since Jacko was 10, he and his father used to check thoroughly on the Internet the records achieved by the best putters of his age. The
It is remarkable Jacko Gill is really light in comparison to the typical shot putter. He is 1.90 tall and only slightly superior to
It is also worth of mention the young prodigy is almost self-coached. French Daniel Poppe, who also worked with Valerie Adams, is his official coach but he acts only as an advisor. Sometimes the former javelin specialist comes around in Gill’s house or the athlete join him at the Millenium stadium but most of the time Jacko works on his own, using Poppe’s lessons, along other information he collects through his computer, and other valuable helps as the late legendary weightlifter Graham May, who wrote for him a program of training and Nigel Avery, who taught him basic lifting techniques. (5) Jacko believes in his own capacity of decision and independence and prefers training alone: “I like to train, not talk.” (4) In the end it is a question of mentality and it is where Gill start to make the difference. He is determined, confident and focused as no teen of his age is and it allows him to maintain his seven hours of hard training and keep pushing. When competition is near he builds himself mentally for the moment to get extra energy of his body. (6) In words of Walter Gill “the atmosphere is unbelievable. The look on his face… It is uncomfortable to be around.” (4)
|Jacko Gill, showing his shot putting technique|
Jacko Gill progression is being meteoric and some are already launching predictions about the precise moment the Kiwi is going to smash the 21 year-old Randy Barnes 23.12 world record. Gill reached the
20 metres mark with the 5 kg youth implement two years ago in Timaru; he needed 7 more months to achieve it with the 6 kg junior shot in Moncton; and only 9 months later he had done it with the senior one. (7) With his awesome 20.01, last April Gill broke the overall record, which had been set by Les Mills no less than 44 years ago. Besides, he also got the goal of becoming the youngest putter ever in breaking the New Zealand 20 metres barrier, beating another former teen prodigy, Michael Carter by 2 years and 7 months. At the same time he threw beyond the best mark for a 17-year-old, who owned no less than Olympic champion in Montreal Udo Beyer. It was also worth to see his groundbreaking performance at Lille World Youth Championship, where he established the new World record with 24.35, leaving his next rival exactly 4 metres behind. Just another athlete had gone beyond 23 metres before, yet Gill produced the 24 metres distance in three occasions during the final. Only the junior record with the 6 metres shot had resisted for the moment the ambitious Jacko. World Champion David Storl keeps the top all-time position with 22.73, while the New Zealander is second 42 centimetres behind. However he will still be a junior for two more seasons.
All are praises for the new track and field phenomenon, starting by the man who lost his long standing record Les Mills: “Jacko is the complete package. He is explosive, is extremely well coordinated, has excellent technique and an amazing attitude for someone so young.” (3) He goes further stating he could be to New Zealand what Peter Snell was in the sixties, and do not forget the three times Olympic champion Snell was chosen by the prestigious Track and Field magazine best athlete of the decade. Interestingly, a country which used to excel in distance running could soon win global titles in shot put simultaneously in women with Valerie Adams and men with Jacko Gill. Dave Wollmann, one of the most respected throw coaches inNonetheless, for the moment Poppe and the athlete itself think the
said he had never seen anything remotely like it in 35 years and believes Gill could do to shot putting what Bob Beamon did to long jump. (3) Statisticians have calculated the New Zealander will smash the record Randy Barnes set just before being banned by massive steroids use, by the time he will be 27 or sooner. Only coach Didier Poppe is cautious, stating nothing can be took for granted and we do not know if can come a day Jacko Gill reach a level he can not improve over anymore or finish being a case of burn-out for all the energy he has been generously expending in his teen years. (8) USA
|Jacko Gill, a babe among the brutes|
Picture by Lawrence Smith