No Sugar Required for Discus Silver
No Sugar Required for Discus Silver Medal at Australian Schools Athletics Championships
We recently traveled to the Australian Capital, Canberra for the Australian 12 and Under Track and Field championships where our eldest boy William was to compete in the 10 year old discus event.
This was a much anticipated event to be conducted from Dec 4th-8th 2015 and involving over 600 children from around Australia representing their respective states.
William had finished 3rd in our state, Victoria, during the qualifying rounds and we had heard stories of boys from other states that were throwing really well so we were hopeful of a good result but knew that he had to get everything right in his preparation and then execution on the day – and this included his diet and health.
About 3 weeks out my competitive juices started to flow a little as I thought about the ideal nutrition for William leading in to the event. Our Low Carb High Fat eating had gotten him this far, but I started to wonder if we should maybe introduce a few extra carbs into his eating to provide some instant energy during his training sessions. So I took the liberty of sending a tweet in hope to leading Sports Scientist and Low Carb High Fat proponent, Professor Tim Noakes for advice on what William should now eat during this lead up period.
Now, let me tell you, Professor Noakes would have been a very busy man at that time as he was fighting a battle in some sort of kangaroo court as he was being pursued by the Health Professionals Council of South Africa after a claim from the Association for Dietetics in South Africa for allegedly giving ‘dangerous advice’ for advising a mother via Twitter that good first foods to wean your child onto are low carb high fat foods a.k.a. meat and vegetables. You can read a summary of the proceedings here.
Anyway, he was a busy man, but he still took the time to reply to my tweet with some great advice and a video of a TED Talk he did on belief. His advice was “Continue what you are doing. Self-belief now more important than nutrition. Believe in the outcome.”
This was powerful advice that I took on board. I immediately changed my language and conversations with William to be more re-assuring and expressive in my belief in him and also that how he has prepared would see him do well. His coach Dion was also instilling this belief into him. As well I became very confident that the food we had been eating as a family would provide everything nutritionally he needed to perform at his best. I was brimming with confidence that we had done all we could.
William flew out on the Friday morning with the State Team and after dropping him at the airport the rest of us packed into our 2002 Mitsubishi Pajero for the 7-8 hour drive to Canberra to meet him there – hopeful the old car would make it. Caitlyn had prepared some beautiful egg and bacon breakfast muffins and flasks of tea and coffee as well as some bottles of water, so apart from toilet and fuel stops we could just keep rolling. These are never the greatest trips with kids and bags packed in tight, but with some technology devices and personal hotspot, we were able to keep everything fairly calm for most of the trip and Caitlyn and I could catch up on some family matters up front.
Before dropping William at the airport he confided in me that he was concerned that during the trip and before we arrived that he might be fed some food with sugar or junk carbs that might affect his performance. He was very conscious of the importance of eating well to be at his best. It was fascinating that he was so aware of this.
That afternoon we arrived safely and on time and went straight to the track for a team briefing and track familiarisation then the opening ceremony. Saturday competition commenced but William’s event was on Sunday afternoon so we had a day of relaxed spectating of many of the other events and supporting the Victorian team and soaking up the atmosphere.William spent some time with his coach doing some last minute training and fine tuning so by Saturday night we knew there was nothing more to be done than have some nice high fat burgers and salad, re-enforce the belief and get a good night’s sleep in the cabin we hired for our stay.
We had spent some time that day watching some other discus age groups and William was focused. He said to me later in the day “Dad, I loved watching the discus today”. I asked him what he loved about it and he replied “The intensity.” I asked him what he loved when he was doing it himself and he replied with a smile “The intensity!”Kids are so surprising and I knew he was going to soak up the pressure well.
The competition day began with the breakfast of champions, bacon and eggs, preparing some food for the day and getting the family organised to get to the track by 9.00am to watch William’s training partner Jarvis compete in the 11 year old discus. We were all very excited and nervous as we watched his event. As it was a very warm day we were mindful to ensure that William was able to find shade and a chair between throws as the last thing we wanted was that after all this effort and preparation he was too hot and tired to perform. Water only was consumed prior to the event as we avoided the sugary sports drinks which were being clung to and sucked on by other children. Was this a disadvantage? I was backing that avoiding the sugar would prove to be an advantage.
Jarvis set the scene to finish 4th in his event and although we were all a little disappointed that he just missed out on a medal, it was a great achievement from him and his dad Dion who coaches the boys.
With Jarvis’s event now completed, it was time for a warm up with the other 2 Victorian 10y.o. competitors and the State coach. Out the back we went to the discus training are for some run throughs, stretching and a few throws. As mentioned earlier, William qualified 3rd in the state so we weren’t quite sure what we were going to get and where he would fit nationally. We had watched some boys from other states warming up earlier and they were very impressive.
The warm up throws were the first indication that William was ‘on’. I was standing out retrieving the discus for the boys with the other 2 boys dads when William started hurling them consistently a metre or 2 further than the other boys. I was excited but wanted to keep a lid on it. After they finished I immediately called William’s coach Dion to let him know what I’d seen. My expectations suddenly raised that his best could be very competitive. I was excited!
It was now time for William to report to the call tent prior to the event and for all of us to nervously wait for the commencement.
As the 16 competitors strode out to the discus net we all agreed again that the Victorian team uniform was the most impressive and William wore it well. I was busy sizing up the competition looking for any threats – quite primal when you think about it! Three throws each and then the top 8 move through to the next round for another three. Would he make the top 8? Last year in a competition he had thrown 3 no throws and was out straight away.
Dion and I assessed the competition during the warm up throws and counted out 5 that we thought he had covered – now they were ready to go. I was feeling a bit queasy!
William strode to the discus ring confidently and was the fifth thrower. He lost his technique slightly in the spin and threw 34.80m equal to his Personal Best but not good enough here. It should however be good enough to get through to the top 8. After the first throws he was in 5th. His next throw was worse by a metre as he again lost his form. I was confident now of him getting through to the next round having seen all the other kids throw, and my nerves disappeared.
These were all great kids and what was noticeable with William and his Victorian teammates was how they celebrated each others success and were so happy for each other. His teammates finished 4th and 5th respectively, great efforts.
With the next throw however, it all clicked into place as he threw a fantastic throw of 38.34m – he was in first place and we were all excited. He went into the final 8 in second place and threw his next throw an amazing 38.77m – beating his pre-championship PB by nearly 4 metres. The leader threw 38.94 and William was unable to beat this with his last 2 throws, but nobody else was able to beat his throw either – so it was a silver medal!
There were handshakes, hugs, tears and smiles from family, friends and coaches at this great effort. Caitlyn’s father had even flown in to watch and it was just great for him to see this.
William was over the moon and after results were finalised and medals presented he couldn’t wait to get on the phone to his other grandparents, friends and cousins to let them know the exciting news. And of course his parents couldn’t wait to get it onto social media. You know what proud parents are like! What a day!
There was some not ideal food consumed by him in the aftermath, but after the discipline he had shown in the lead up and in general we were ok for him, and the other children, to have few treats as part of the celebrations. But the trip home was the time to normalise and get back on track.
It’s now back to business as usual at home and we now only have the memories of what was a wonderful few days in Canberra.
This experience was a rich one with great learning for the whole family I think:
- William learnt that he could be competitive nationally and grew in belief each time he trained.
- Samuel learnt that this was all possible by watching the event unfold and seemed to grow in confidence just being around the competition and competitors.
- Eve learnt more about our country’s Parliament and History on her visit to Parliament house with her Grandfather.
- Ivy learnt that she could progress many levels on subway surfer if you play it long enough.
- Caitlyn and I learnt that we are on the right track with our family’s nutrition and that this can flow through to performance in sport, and we suspect many other areas of life also.