Above: Connor Bell winning gold at the Commonwealth Youth Games in the Bahamas in 2017. Photo by Scott Barbour / Getty Images.
Commonwealth Youth Games gold medallist and national U18 and U20 discus champion Connor Bell is an athlete of exciting potential. The 17-year-old North Harbour Bays athlete offers a glimpse into his world by answering our Five Minutes With questions.
What is your best athletics quality?
My passion for the sport I love throwing. It is what I do. I go out to every day in training and try to enjoy the experience with the aim of being the best that I can be.
Why would you encourage anyone to try athletics?
Athletics is an awesome way to socialise and meet new people. I think the atmosphere at a athletics meeting is quite similar to that of going around to someone’s house for a barbeque in the way that everyone talks quite easily.
Who was your first coach and how did they influence your career?
My first coach was Sasha Piikington, who picked me up as soon as I started Bays Athletics. She saw the potential in me and set the foundation of my technique, rhythm and speed.
What are your athletics weaknesses?
I maybe need to look on the bright side a little more and find the good in the things. I do tend to focus on the areas that need improving and this can lead me down to a negative path. Requiring more patience sometimes would be another one. I was trying hard to get everything working straight away the other night in training, when my dad talked to me about taking a step back and slowing everything down.
What is your favourite athletics session?
I enjoy all of them. I enjoy going to the gym, improving my throwing and all the little parts of the process that will, ultimately, take me down the right path.
What is the greatest thing you’ve witnessed in an athletics stadium?
It was more a shocking moment when the Welsh athlete, James Tomlinson, at the Commonwealth Youth Games launched the discus out and it struck an official on the ankle.
Who has been your toughest rival?
Probably James Tomlinson, the Welsh athlete. He was a big fellow and he played the mental games really well. He was getting into my head a little (at Commonwealth Youth Games). He is a really cool character and the pressure he put me under allowed me to gain that competitive edge and throw a really good distance (Connor threw 63.17m for gold and Tomlinson 60.11m for silver).
If you could star in another sport which sport would it be?
Football. I’ve been watching the World Cup and the Intensity and pressure of the games have been something else. I think I’d would be a goalkeeper, I’ve got long arms and I’d take up much of the goal!
When travelling to a meeting what is the most important item in your suitcase?
My deodorant because I get pretty hot and sweaty on my way down in the car!
What is your greatest regret?
Probably not taking time to really appreciate the people that have put in the hard yards and all the effort in. I don’t think I have quite realised the sacrifices people have made to see me achieve my potential.
Who is the person who most admire?
My dad (Steve). He has been there from the very beginning. He was there when I first picked up the discus down the park. He’s always instilled in me the desire to give something a go, which has led to where I am today.
What are you most scared of?
Not reaching my potential.
What is your favourite movie and why?
Remember the Titans - it teaches really good values of people coming together and appreciating each other, regardless of race.
When was the last time you looked at your athletics medals?
Probably when I got back from Vanuatu in May (a qualification event for the Youth Olympic Games) when I took the gold medal out of the bag and chucked it in the closet.