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Training Talk with Mac Wilkins (Part 2)

Mac Wilkins in his prime.

On Tuesday I posted the first part of my recent interview with 1976 Olympic discus champion Mac Wilkins. We talked about the current state of the discus throw in America and his new projects with the Mac Wilkins Throwers Academy and the The Wilkins Review. In this final part we turn our attention to training and what characteristics he sees are needed by elite discus throwers.


Training

Martin: What aspect of training or technique do most American discus throwers get right?

Mac: They wear throwing shoes when throwing. They know which edge of the discus to hold in their fingers.

Martin: What aspect of training or technique are most Americans missing?

Mac: No concept of how to create power in the throw, how to sling the discus. They want to hit it instead of sling it.
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Training Talk with Mac Wilkins (Part 1)

1976 Olympic Champion Mac Wilkins

While my true love lies with the hammer throw, I try to learn as much as I can from all of track and field’s various disciplines. The best coaches and athletes that I have met all accumulate knowledge from every source possible. With that in mind, I decided to ask Mac Wilkins a few questions about the discus throw. Mac was the 1976 Olympic Champion in the discus throw and set five world records. But even though he had much success in the discus, he also knows a thing or two about the other throwing events. His nickname was “Multiple Mac” since he had impressive personal bests of 70.98m (discus), 21.06m (shot put), 63.66m (hammer), and 78.44m (old-style javelin).

In 2005, Mac decided to turn his attention back to the throwing events. He accepted a job as the throwing coach at Concordia University and started the Mac Wilkins Throwers Academy. Through those two roles he is involved in a long list of pursuits from offering online video analysis to hosting frequent competitions and clinics. One of his more recent ventures is The Wilkins Review, a subscription based service that provides coaching tools, analysis of the world’s best throwers, commentary, and training tips for the discus and other throwing events. His contribution to the sport is already paying dividends. This year’s top ranked male high school shot put, discus, and hammer throwers all train at his facility (in addition to the national high school javelin record setter last year). Despite the mild weather in Portland, it is the best throwing facility I have ever seen.

Below is part one of the interview where we discuss his projects and the current state of discus throwing in America. Check back for the final part in the next day or two, where we’ll discuss more about training and the elements of success for elite throwers.


The Mac Wilkins Throws Academy

Martin: After working in the business world, what made you decide to switch your focus back entirely to the throws?

Mac: In about 2000 I realized that my best and highest use was teaching the throws, not selling corporate technology solutions. Opportunities presented themselves such as starting a Throwers Academy and being invited to be the Technical Consultant to the Elite US Discus Throwers. In December 2004 I was contacted by Randy Dalzell who was starting a track program at Concordia University. Concordia’s long term plan of growth in enrollment, neighborhood involvement and becoming a center of excellence was a good match with my vision. The resulting Throw Center is clearly a miracle of the Lord. It was crazy since their enrollment at the time was about 700 undergraduates.
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