Norwich javelin prospect Dan Bainbridge looking to take next step with Young Norfolk Sports Academy
- Credit: Submitted
Javelin thrower Dan Bainbridge is one of 15 young athletes receiving coaching from the Young Norfolk Sports Academy.
The 16-year-old, from Norwich, is ranked sixth in the United Kingdom at under-17 level for 2015 after throwing 60.74 metres at City of Norwich AC's open meeting in April.
In the latest of our monthly updates with YNSA athletes, the Langley School pupil gives us an insight into his sporting development.
I started throwing the javelin when I joined the City of Norwich Athletics Cub (CoNAC) at the age of nine.
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Since then, the sport has become my passion and I think it is fair to say that I now live, sleep and breathe javelin.
My personal goal is to go as far as I can in the sport and to push myself by staying focused on my targets.
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My journey started at the UEA Sportspark in Norwich, progressing to regional and then national and international competitions.
It is an exciting journey and I look forward to every step – even the downs because it is from these that I can learn the most.
The 2015 season has been a successful year for me, throwing over 60 metres and culminating in a bronze at the England Athletics Championships and a gold at the UK Javelin Carnival. It has been difficult balancing GCSEs with my sporting commitments, but I am lucky in that Langley School supports me by providing both excellent training facilities and strength and conditioning advice.
I also represented the school at the English Schools Athletics Championships in Gateshead, finishing fourth.
In javelin, the road to success is a long haul and the best throwers peak in their late 20s. I am fortunate to have a fantastic coach in Tim Newenham, who has nurtured my development.
This winter, I have an intensive training programme with a focus on building my power, flexibility and throwing technique.
I particularly look forward to monthly training camps at Loughborough University with other top throwers under the leadership of the UK Javelin Coach Mentor. It is a time to get together with like-minded athletes, share ideas and to nurture some national identity, with the aim that one of us may become the next Steve Backley.
In June, I travelled to Finland for the International Javelin Carnival.
Being the home of javelin, it was fascinating to see crowds at events where the world's best are looked on as sporting heroes in much the same way that footballers are in the UK. Having 24-hour daylight made it possible to actually throw the javelin at any time of the day – sheer heaven!
I have the drive and passion to push myself in throwing.
However, it is the support and guidance from the YNSA that is helping me become a more rounded athlete.
I have learned so much from the weekly meetings with advice on nutrition, psychology and how to deal with the media. One of the most valuable sessions for me was a lecture by physiotherapist, Lisa Hayward (Physio East), who introduced Functional Movement Screening. Like tennis players and cricketers, I have an over-emphasis on the muscles on one side of the body.
By concentrating on the symmetry, I have adjusted my training routine to create greater balance. This has improved my throw by several metres.
The Young Norfolk Sports Academy (YNSA) was launched by Norwich School during the previous academic year.
The project aims to bring together young talent from different sports, to offer coaching in the various aspects of life for an elite athlete, as well as expert support, training and education. The YNSA athletes are part of a physical tracking programme and will develop their understanding of topics such as nutrition, psychology, injury rehabilitation and handling the media.
Norwich School completed a successful pilot scheme with their own athletes and decided to extended the opportunity across the county. Applicants for the YNSA needed to be between 15 and 18 years old and ranked in the top 10 of their chosen sport in their home country in their age group, and also have a proven record of performance.
For more information, go to www.ynsa.org.uk.