To be the man you’ve got to beat the man, and after five long years Joe Ford finally knocked off his rival to become the South Island Secondary Schools discus champion last month.
Having gone his whole college career without beating incumbent James Coats, it took a special throw from Joe to get him across the line.
Late on the final day in Christchurch, Joe and James were going tit for tat with the defending champion managing to continually outthrow. That was until the 18-year-old Nelson College student mustered a personal best of 46.50, edging his opponent by more than a metre to win the title.
“As soon as I threw it, I could feel it was going to be good.”
Joe credits a combination of adrenaline and nerves for his mammoth effort as well as determination to get one over James.
“He had always beaten me, and this was my last chance, so I just trained hard and managed to throw a personal best on the day.”
It was an athletics day back in year seven when Joe first picked up a discus and discovered his talent for the discipline.
“I didn’t know what I was doing but then I beat the record and thought ‘this is pretty cool’.”
Self-taught, Joe has spent his entire career to date without a coach.
“It has been hard, my mum videos me and I go back and look at it but that was pretty much it, just watching videos and what others do.”
Despite not having a fulltime coach, Joe is not short on mentors having spent time with some of the best in the business.
“I went to Christchurch to train with Tom Walsh and Jacko Gill, they had some amazing coaches who gave me some great pointers.”
Joe has also trained with, and now aspires to be, the best discus thrower on the planet Connor Bell.
“When you see them and watch their technique it’s pretty inspiring.”
Joe says the sport can be just as psychologically demanding as it is physically.
“Some days I can’t throw over 40, its very mental and sometimes it can just come down to how you warmed up.”
The 18-year-old spends up to four days a week in the gym as well as time at Saxton Track throwing for up to an hour at a time with his dad is at the other end to retrieve the discs.
His focus now shifts to the national championships which will be held in Wellington in December.
“I am hoping to get top five at nationals and break 50 by end of year, I have gotten so close.”