HMMR Podcast Episode 255: Olympic throws debrief (with Shaun Pickering)

The Olympics just wrapped up. All the uncertainty leading into the games was left fans unsure of what was to come. But once the throwing started, historic performances arrived daily. On this week’s episode guest Shaun Pickering joins us to break down the performances in each of the throwing events, look at what made the Tokyo Olympics different, and draw out some key lessons for coaches and athletes from the 2020 Olympics.

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Notes and quotes

Shaun Pickering is a throwing coach, commentator, and supporter. As an athlete, he competed in the shot put at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and won bronze at the 1998 Kuala Lumpur Commonwealth Games. He is a member of the Welsh Athletics hall of fame after capturing 19 Welsh titles in the shot put, discus and hammer titles. In addition, he is a founding trustee of the Ron Pickering Memorial Fund, where he helps support the next generation of athletes.

  • 0:00 – Introduction.
  • 2:15 – Impressions from Tokyo, what made the 2020 Olympics different, and the logistical challenges faced.
  • 16:00 – Men’s shot put, adjusting to Japan time, and new event scheduling.
  • 22:30 – The disappearance of the glide: “This was the first Olympics were there was no glider in the men’s shot put competition, neither the final or even in qualification.”
  • 24:30 – The rise of Zane Weir and the role of size and strength in the shot put.
  • 28:30 – New Zealand throws and building a national throwing culture.
  • 32:15 – Women’s shot put highlights
  • 33:45 – A look at Portuguese and Sweden throwing.
  • 35:45 – Men’s discus: “At the end of the day, you want to have your worst day better than anybody else. The goal is to raise your level so that even if things aren’t going well you can still be the best. Daniel Stahl had his worst competition of the year in Doha and won. He had his worst competition of the of the year in Tokyo.”
  • 40:15 – Why American men’s discus continues to lag behind.
  • 46:30 – Women’s discus highlights.
  • 48:00 – Standardizing ring surfaces, runway surfaces, and the impact of the new shoe rules.
  • 52:30 – Men’s javelin highlights.
  • 60:00 – Women’s javelin highlights.
  • 1:03:15 – Men’s hammer throw highlights: “The Americans have done a great job developing the hammer throw. But the one thing lacking is experience throwing against the other guys.”
  • 1:12:30 – Women’s hammer throw highlights
  • 1:14:45 – Getting athletes out of their comfort zone developing consistency.
  • 1:18:45 – Overcoming reliance on coaches: “I see a trend in coaching now that the athletes are getting far too dependent upon coaches, even when the coaches aren’t there. At a championships the athlete needs to know what he’s doing.”
  • 1:23:15 – Development of the throws in Japan and China.

To hear more on these topics, listen to the full episode above. Also be sure to subscribe to our podcast and review it on iTunes.

Further reading

  • This episode is brought to you by HMMR Plus. Become a member for full access to our videos, articles, and podcast archives. The August site theme is analyzing the Olympics. Check back throughout the rest of the month for more insights from Tokyo.
  • You can follow Pickering on Twitter (@ShaunDPickering) and Instagram (@ShaunDPickering).
  • Pickering is heavily involved with the Ron Pickering Memorial Fund, which provides grants to developing athletes. You can make a donation on their website.
  • On our recent Episode 254, John Godina explained some of the factors which made competing at the Olympics unique for athletes. Last week’s GAINcast 222 also broke down some lessons learned from the Olympics across a wide range of events and sports.
  • Similar to this episode, on Episode 170 we also broke down the 2017 World Championships with coach Don Babbitt, including a look at technical trends across events.
  • You can learn about the European Athletics Coaches Club on the European Athletics Coaches Association webpage. In the future, EACA will put together free coaches club panels for all global events.