Tom Walsh and His GNARLY Right Leg

photo by getty-images

I was able to get in touch with Tom Walsh of New Zealand. For anyone who doesn’t know who he is, Tom won the Indoor World Championships this past winter and has a gnarly right leg out the back of the circle.  Here are a few questions I had for him:

I come from a family of throwers and I progressed very quickly. What was your progression through high school and university?

I picked up shot put at about 14 years old, but didn’t do much of it. I was playing a lot of cricket and rugby at the time, they were my 2 main sports. For the next few years i would be lucky to get down to the track 2 times a week. I kept on improving and started to take it more seriously at about 17, I did not touch the weight room until I had left school at age 18 so i had plenty for room to grow as a thrower, After school i didn’t go to uni instead i started my building apprenticeship  which i have just  finished. It only took me 6 years but i got there. As I got into my earlier 20s I was see some real improvement and there for stopped playing Rugby and cricket want forced on shot put. From there I  missed out on world champs 2013 by 1cm, which really made me the thrower I am today. I have attached a list of my progressions.

2016 21.54 London (Olympic Stadium) 23 JUL
2015 21.62 Zagreb (Sports Park Mladost) 07 SEP
2014 21.24 Glasgow (Hampden Park) 27 JUL
2013 20.61 Melbourne (Albert Park) 12 DEC
2012 19.33 Amiens 30 JUN
2011 18.83 Auckland 05 DEC
2010 16.96 Victoria, CAN 07 JUL
Did you try replicating anyone’s technique? Who did you model yourself after?
No I don’t. I believe you can look at a few things from some of the throws but the hope package of technique should be yours. There is no point copying someone elses technique as they are completely different to you, they may be the same height and weight but they may be stronger or more explosive than you, so you will be fighting a losing battle before you begin. You should throw like you and no one else.
You are amazingly dynamic when you throw. Does your warm up routine consist of dynamic stretches that replicate your throw?

No, not really. my warm up can consist of anything from throwing a frisbee, Slack lining, to knee slaps or just going for a lap around the track, I figure that in my career that i will have to do thousands of warm ups, so my not make them fun and different.

I know workout routines can be very detailed, but could you give us some insight on what your weekly routine looks like?

Depending on what block I’m in and where i am in the world they change. When I’m at home its some like
Monday
work 7am-1pm
Lifting & Circuit
Tuesday
work 7am-1pm
throw- Circuit
Wednesday
work 7am-1pm
lifting & circuit
Thursday
throw & Lift a.m
Friday
lifting & circuit a.m
Saturday
throw & Circuit
When I’m away from home which is about 5/6 months of the year which my Girl Friend loves it a wee bit different but not a lot.
What are your personal best maxes for 
First of all I don’t know why everybody is so interested in what pbs we have in the gym, we are throwers after all shouldn’t it matter what we do in the circle more than in the gym. why does no body want to know what are 5 bounds or Vertical Jump pbs are, we are not power lifters we are trying to throw the shot at between 13 and 14 meters per second so shouldn’t we care more about trying to speed up things and not grinding them out.
Squat 250kg
Bench 210kg
Power clean 165kg x2
Power snatch Don’t do them
Deadlift dont do them
It’s known that to make a living within this sport can be very difficult. Do you save all your money? Invest? Or just live? 
As you may see above I still work 3 days a week when I’m back home, that is because I think it is good for my well being  and not because i have to. It is very easy to get down on yourself when things aren’t going right and that is where the building helps me, makes me think about other things than just shot put and training.
I am in a very lucky place in NZ where not only do I get funded by Nike i also get help from athletics NZ (Track& FieldNZ) to help cover my expenses,
I am also lucky to have about 10/15 sponsors.

So i make enough money to live and i get to Invest a little bit.

So you had an epic showing in Portland Oregon at the Indoor World Championships. It seemed like from the get go you were in a groove. Of course you planned to throw well at that meet but did you expect to throw that consistently well?

I new I was in pretty good shape to throw far as i was throwing very well in training leading into the comp, I did feel like I had a wee bit more to give, I never really lined one up. when I’m in that kind of shape I’m quiet consistent so it wasn’t a surprise.

How do you feel going into Rio? They say “if it’s not broke don’t try to fix it.” That being said l, are you just simply replicating the training months prior to your showing at the Indoor Worlds? 

The peak at world indoors was a a lot shaper than the one will be at rio it was a 2/3 week peak, the one at rio will be a 4/5 week peak but it should do the same as what happened at world indoors, i am 3 weeks into it at the mo and everything thing is starting to line up nicely.

A serious question and you don’t have to answer and I won’t make mention of it unless you are ok with it….Out of the throwers competing at this Olympics how many do you think are cheating by using PEDs? No names just a number. Again you don’t have to answer this and if you don’t I won’t even mention that this question was asked.

I think there are a few out there, but not as many as wha there were 10 years ago so the sport of shot put is getting cleaner. Saying that you can’t let it get on top of you, you can only control yourself so theres not point wasting you’re energy on what someone else is doing.

What distance do you think will make it into the top 12 for qualifying? What distance do you think will make the top 8?

i think you’ll have to throw 20.15m and above to make the top 12 and 20.50 to make the top 8.

When you retire from throwing, what do you see yourself doing to stay healthy? What do you see yourself doing as a career?Well first of all i hope it is a long way away. I am only 24, so hope to have a number of good years in front of me. Staying fit? um i enjoy going on nature walks and we have plenty of them in NZ to do, i also love playing golf so walking 7km two times a week will hopefully keep me in shape. i don’t think i will keep lifting i think by then i will have had enough of it.

Career wise i have no idea, I really enjoy building/ farming so that my be where i go, or i may do some coaching in athletics, I’m unsure but once I’m done I’m sure ill fine something to do.
What can you tell a kid who wants to throw? What is tips can you give that you wish someone told you years ago?
I think the main thing is for them to enjoy/have fun whatever they do, there is plenty of time in life to get serious about sport, its fine to want to get to the top right now, but make sure you enjoy the journey or you may miss something.

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