World-class shot putter and part-time builder Tom Walsh has won major global medals indoors and out. Here he shares a series of useful tips.
When you arrive at a major championships, you have to believe that you have put in the work to perform. If you are doubting yourself, you are not going to have a show.
Ahead of the 2015 World Championships in Beijing I had a hip injury two to three months out and I couldn’t throw for two to three weeks, but I managed to get around it. I got to Beijing believing I was in the best shape I had ever been in.
Sometimes you just need to be patient and know when to pull back and not push it.
You need to figure out how to compete the best.
For example, in the shot some guys need to get hyped up and angry. Others want to start a fight and some people like to get late to the venue so their heart rate is racing. Being more low-key and relaxed works for me, but it doesn’t work for everyone.
The one I always took from Ian [Baird], my coach for many years, was ‘keep dreaming’. So, by that he means if you want to one day throw 23m, don’t let anyone doubt you and keep focused on achieving that goal.
It won’t necessarily come true, but at least you are looking ahead and working towards something.
It is more of a movement tip – don’t try and make it happen, let it happen. Sometimes the harder you try, the less likely it is going to happen. So, it is about just letting go from the back of the circle without forcing it.
Top tip for surviving the athletics circuit
Particularly for some of the athletes who go away for two to three months at a time, it is important to focus on something more than athletics.
For example, golf is my passion. It gets me out of the house for five hours and that is great. My coach and I have a rule that we don’t talk athletics on the golf course. Playing the game is a great break from athletics.
Have a good variance in what you can cook whether that is proteins, carbs, vegetables or salads. So even if you like to cook steak one particular way, make sure you mix it up with roast veggies, boiled veggies or salads on different days.
Don’t forget where you come from. It is big Kiwi thing to be grounded and humble. I understand that to be a top athlete you need to be confident, but at the same time everyone started out as a 15m shot putter or an 11sec 100m sprinter. Yet you are only one injury away from once again becoming a 15m shot putter, so never become too arrogant or cocky because if you have annoyed too many people on your journey to the top, people won’t help you when you are no longer number one.
Wear whatever your sponsor gives you.
It is very important to get the right insurance on your rental car! I drive a lot on the right side of the road when overseas [note, New Zealanders drive on the left side] and I sometimes find myself creeping over to the other side of the road.
Some people go away for two weeks and are on a tight schedule giving them no free time. Often they come back from holiday more tired than when they arrive, so I would say always give yourself time to relax.
Social media tip
I have two. Don’t post too often, keep it to maybe twice a week as it can annoy people if you share too regularly.
Another is don’t read or reply to comments people make.
No matter how long you have been with your partner it is important to explore new places and experience new things. It is fine to go back to your favourite restaurant, but make the time to push new boundaries and do something new and different.