Here at FGH we are proud of our rich, enthusiastic staff; Go-getters who embrace life and participate in a range of activities outside of work. These range from national level sportsmen to adventurers and globe trotters. Each quarter we’ll focus on one of these staff members in our ‘In Focus’ article, for an inside perspective on the faces who form, arguably, the UK’s best manned security provider. This month we interviewed Tom Smith.
“I’ve always set my targets really high even from a young age,” explains Tom whose ambition is to represent Great Britain at Rio 2016. Whilst making an Olympics is a pipedream for most athletes, looking at Tom you would be hard pressed to argue otherwise; he is six feet tall and built like a weightlifter rather than your stereotypical thrower. Despite being in his early twenties he is throwing just under Olympic qualifying standard in both shot and discuss; the current Olympic qualifying standard is 19.5 meters; there are only a handful of athletes in the world consistently throwing over twenty meters at the moment. In his own words the 2016 and 2020 Olympics are going to fall at the peak of his physical power, “If I don’t make it by then I never will”.
Tom’s confidence is not unduly audacious. He has been approached by a number of top UK athletics teams and coaches who see in him the raw talent make the GB team and be competitive internationally. At thirteen Tom was scouted by athletic coaches in the United States with a view towards moving him into the American Collegiate system. However, he currently enjoys the coaching as part of his Wigan training camp and is proud that his experience and ability are inspiring his younger contemporaries and pushing the club forward. Despite his evident talent Tom is relaxed about competing. His pragmatism speaks volumes about his self-conviction and makes it difficult to doubt him.
While he lacks the swagger you’d expect from such a talented young athlete, his meticulousness and focus is remarkable. It demonstrates that he has the personality as well the natural ability that together makes a truly great athlete. Tom chooses to train with a shot almost a kilo heavier than the standard 7.26kg competition shot and obsesses about making each throw “look perfect from the outside”. He has a thorough understanding of a sport where the ‘devil’s in the detail’ and where something seemingly as insignificant as the position of an elbow can make all the difference.
In sport there is a fine line between success and failure. Tom has worked hard both physically and mentally on his training. Meditation clears his mind prior to throwing and enables him to recognise the psychological cues which convert into consistently strong performances. For Tom the speed of the three taps that his shoes make in the throwing circle indicate the strength of his discuss throwing. What appears simple on the surface is actually very technical; each competitive throw is a combination of speed, power and positional awareness, all working in harmony to produce a seamless performance.
Tom’s biggest fan is his father, a fellow discus and shot-put athlete. He was also Tom’s first coach and played an instrumental role in his development. Bob Halliwell (Tom’s current coach) focuses on training on key areas to encourage further improvement. This includes the correct bracing of the side of his body not in contact with object being thrown. He has also worked on his peak force and power outage to generate the greatest force possible in a hundredth of a second.
Tom is self-funded; in the past this has posed challenged to his athletic development, hindering his ability to train and compete with any regularity. However, having changed his day job and started working for FGH he feels that, though still playing catch up, he is developing quicker than the majority of his competitors. Tom first started working for the company as a Steward and then progressed to become a member of the Door Supervision team. This sees him working regular shifts in Cumbria and Lancashire as well as at events such as Kendal Calling and Manchester Pride.