Becoming an Elite Thrower: Bekah Walton's Story
My beginnings in javelin throw
Elite sports people are some of the worst for reflecting on their achievements. As soon as you achieve one goal, the benchmark moves forward, and there is little acknowledgement of their accomplishments...
...when I reflect on my throwing career, I am just as guilty of this.
My mum fondly tells me a story of my second year throwing the javelin. I was beginning my 2014 season, and throwers had to enter an over 30m or under 30m category for the competition. I had a PB of 30.48m at the time, so naturally, I was entered for the former. I was petrified when I found out...
Even though I had technically thrown over 30m, I’d only done it once the year before and didn’t feel like an established thrower at that distance. I vividly remember crying, shouting that I wasn’t a 30m thrower, and leaving the competition with only 29m and a great deal of embarrassment. Later that year, I went on to take a surprise win in the English Schools, my only gold at these championships, adding 14m to my PB throughout the year. I don’t think I ever looked back to reflect just how far I came in that space.
How I fuelled my fire
As the years moved on, the barriers naturally progressed without me realising the significance of this progress. I spent years trying to break the 50m barrier. Throughout 2018, I threw everything at it I could, and I fell short, throwing 49m five times and falling short by a matter of cm. At this point, I felt I had a choice of letting that demotivate me or add fuel to the fire. I chose the latter. I eventually did it for the first time in 2019, surpassing the distance by 4m with my first-ever throw over 50m. I guess I find myself in a similar circumstance now, where I’ve been chipping away at my PB, but the ultimate goal has always been to throw over 60m.
I had expectations of myself to break this in the 2023 season but found myself falling short by 24cm. Based on the form I knew I was in, it’s meant I have left the season with some disappointments despite some great successes – truly proving my opening point. The progress I really strive for each year now is to throw consistently around my previous year's PB and throw a new PB in the process. This accumulation of long-term consistency, coupled with my aim of competing well at the major competitions each year, has been my best marker of progression in my career.
How I set my goals
I have always had the long-term goal of competing at a major championship, but that goal seemed so far out of reach and daunting to me when I was younger. However, the strategy to address this long-term goal was to break it down into more achievable goals that were optimistic but not unrealistic. The process goal may be to earn an international cap, throw a given distance, or perhaps win the crucial competitions of my season. Our next step would be to break this down into attainable process goals that would allow me to achieve these aims, such as physical prep work or technical changes.
It’s been nostalgic to reflect on my career so far and see how my goals have changed from a young girl who hardly knew what English Schools was, to the teenager who doubted she would ever return to her previous form, to the young adult who was in disbelief at throwing 50m to where I am today.
This winter is the most demanding of my life as I prepare for the biggest season I’ve ever had. Our approach to this winter has remained the same as any other: be clear on the outcome and break down the process into achievable steps. This winter, we have taken the detail of our planning to another level and are looking for an incremental improvement in every factor of my training life: my technique, physical prep, nutrition, sleep and recovery. These 1% improvements quickly add up, and before you know it, you’ve found that PB.
So, for any of you who may be planning ahead for your future competitions, be clear in your aims, set achievable goals which you can break down to simpler processes, and be sure to aim for consistency.
About Bekah Walton
Originally a netballer, Bekah quickly discovered a talent for javelin throwing, and hasn't looked back since.
Bekah is a British Champion and now has her eyes set on Commonwealth and Olympic glory!