Q&A with Sportshoes.com athlete Taylor Campbell
Written By: SportsShoes
Interviewed by Ben Mounsey
We are extremely delighted to welcome GB international athlete Taylor Campbell as the latest addition to our Sportsshoes.com team.
Taylor is the current British no.1 Hammer Thrower and is ranked 2nd in the British all-time standings for the event. We caught up with him to discuss his recent selection for Tokyo and to find out more about his training and motivation.
Hi Taylor – Welcome to the team!
Firstly, HUGE congratulations on gaining selection for Tokyo, you must be absolutely delighted!
It’s truly a dream come true. I can’t believe everything has come together the way it has this season. In early June I threw my personal best to qualify and since then was in total disbelief that I had just qualified but now my space has been confirmed in the team, I have come down from the clouds and been solely focused on making sure I am ready come Tokyo.
How long have you been training and competing for the Hammer Throw? How did you first become involved in the sport?
I was first involved with athletics back in 2004 when I did a summer camp at my local athletics track. I was 8 years old and remember it was just before Athens in 2004. I got to watch athletes like Marlon Devonish, Tim Benjamin and Mark Lewis Francis training ahead of the competition and I was in absolute awe of these super humans. From there, my older brother stayed involved with the athletics club and I used to be brought down the track on a Tuesday or Thursday evening and told to run around it to keep me out of trouble. Eventually I started taking a liking to the throwing events and in 2008 began throwing hammers and haven’t looked back since.
What other sports do you enjoy taking part in?
I grew up in a very competitive and sporting family. Our lives revolved around sport and I was very fortunate that my parents encouraged us to do so. I played a lot of rugby as a kid. Even remember joining in with my older brother’s team when I was 7 - in return I would have a bag of Maltesers after!
Nowadays, I can’t do other sports as the risk of injury is too high, but I still enjoy rugby and more recently a fond love for the NFL. For me, as an individual sport athlete I love watching team sports and wish a team atmosphere was something we had more in athletics. I love the support and camaraderie of the team environment.
For the Hammer Throw, what kit do you need to train and compete?
Most important items for me would be warm durable clothing, especially during winter as the weather can be quite brutal. Some days it will be minus degrees, raining or snowing and I have to go out there and train twice a day for an hour a time. Without the correct training clothing I would be soaked through and freezing. This means that throughout the tough winter months I can get the most out of myself and reduce the limiting factors.
What are your favourite and essential pieces of kit?
I would say weightlifting shoes, during those cold winter months I take shelter in the gym for a few hours 2/3 times a week. Having a nice set of weightlifting shoes makes those tough winter months quite enjoyable.
You are the current British no.1 and you recently threw a PB of 78:23 in Budapest last month to move you up to 2nd in the all-time British standings. You must be full of confidence going into the biggest competition of your life? What are your goals and expectations for Tokyo?
It’s been quite a crazy season, I’ve added 3.5m to my personal best so I know I am in great shape and I am looking forward to trying to consolidate around that distance I set of 78.23m. In 2016, the event was won in a distance just 40cm further than my current PB, but as this is my first experience in this competition and during covid times, I want to take it all in my stride, keep my head screwed on and just focus on setting up my throwing as I do in training day in and day out. I know I’m capable of throwing far but I can’t let myself get ahead of myself, I just have to stick to the process.
Aside from gaining this incredible selection, what do you consider to be your other greatest achievement and why?
I would say it was getting a degree. I was a bit of a class clown when I was younger and always had sport as my get out of jail card when I was in trouble with the teachers. So, for me to go and get a degree is a nice achievement for me away from the sporting world.
You’re based down in Loughborough, the home of elite sport in this country. What is it like to live and train in a place that is so dedicated to sport?
Loughborough for me is such a convenient place to be based, to have all my coaches, physios and facilities all in one building is so important. Whether it’s throwing or lifting we have such a good environment where you can support one another and really get behind each other. There are so many other athletes based here that I have seen put the work in day in and day out, it’s been great to get behind them during their toughest training sessions and now to see them reap the rewards for it this season is a special moment.
I’m really interested to learn more about your training, diet and lifestyle. Can you give us a little insight into the life of an international Hammer Thrower?
As a thrower, the misconception is that we just lift everything and eat everything… but the lifestyle is a little more calculated and complex than that. Training hours for throwers is tough, I do between 7 to 9 throwing sessions a week, often we do two throwing sessions a day which take 2 hours when you include warm up, throwing, supplementary exercises and cool down.
Between September to March, I will have 2/3 lifting sessions a week which will take up to 2.5hours.
Given all this training, it’s so important we put all the right fuel into our bodies. My diet is very protein heavy, whether that’s 5 raw eggs blended up in a smoothie for breakfast or two tins of tuna at 10pm before I hit the hay. The main thing is we don’t go hungry and that we always replenish ourselves after a long day of training.
This makes my days off even more important, I learned very quickly since I’ve been a full-time athlete that days off aren’t getting up to no good, I need to actually sit at home and chill out otherwise I diminish the rest day. So, for me Gaming and Netflix are such important pastimes to help me physically and mentally switch off after training.
Aside from intense physical training, is there anything else you do to prepare yourself for competition?
Visualisation. I spend hours thinking about throwing big or watching videos of other throwers during their big throwing moments. It gets me focused and determined to throw far.
How have you been preparing for Tokyo? Is there anything you’ve been doing differently in training specifically for this competition?
We had hoped to implement a heat strategy, but given I have to walk 70m after every throw it soon became something that wasn’t realistic. Two things we have done is we treated every competition throw as if it will be my first throw in Tokyo. Visualising myself in that stadium and raring to go.
Secondly, we moved out training times to match the qualifying and finals times, this means my body is used to competing at certain times of the day.
Can you tell us a bit more about the Hammer Throw competition? Also, when and where will your event take place?
Hammer throw weighs 7.26kg which is 7 and a ¼ bags of sugar. On August 2nd I will have my qualifying round, I will have three throws to make the top 12, the top 12 then advance to the final which takes place on August 4th. This is where the top 12 battle it out for the medals.
Who are your biggest competitors/rivals?
I think once we all start on August 2nd we are all competitors, everything we have done until then means nothing as we all need to make our mark on the day and step up.
You and the rest of the athletes at this global event are about to inspire the whole world and most importantly, the future generation of athletes. What tips and advice do you have for anyone wanting to get involved in the sport?
If you want to do something, go and do it. Life is too short to not do what makes you happy. Grasp any opportunity that comes your way as you never know when it’ll be too late.
Thanks for taking the time to chat with us Taylor! We all wish you and the rest of the team the very best of luck!
You can follow Taylor and his athletic journey here.
Discover more Q&As, inspiration and kit advice over on our Training Hub.
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