New management structure for Jacko Gill announced
Two-time World Junior shot put champion Jacko Gill has put together a powerful and experienced coaching and management team, which he hopes will guide the teenager successfully through the sometimes difficult transition from the junior to the senior ranks.
Leading ‘Team Jacko’ will be his new manager, Les Mills, the four-time Olympian and 1966 Commonwealth Games discus champion, who has taken on the lead role for aiding the development of the shot put prodigy.
With the input and full support of Gill, a group has been assembled which it is hoped will maximise the exciting potential of the 19-year-old from Takapuna on Auckland’s North Shore as he steps up into the red-hot furnace of senior competition.
Leading Gill’s coaching team will be Kirsten Hellier, the woman who guided Valerie Adams from a talented schoolgirl from Mangere East into an Olympic champion and two-time outdoor World gold medallist before they parted ways in 2010.
Gill will receive further technical support via video from his former coach, Courtney Ireland, the 1994 Commonwealth silver medallist, who relocated from New Zealand to Singapore last year.
Other ‘Team Jacko’ members include the 1966 Commonwealth decathlon champion Roy Williams, who will support the shot putter’s general conditioning. Meanwhile, boxing coach, Ben Tupu, will also be part of the inner circle offering drills of the ‘noble art’ to aid his overall fitness.
Mills, an entrepreneur and former Mayor of Auckland, has a wealth of athletics experience. Besides his impressive competitive background, the 79-year-old was Director of Coaching at Athletics New Zealand in the 1980’s and coach to 1997 World discus champion Beatrice Faumuina.
The five-time Commonwealth medallist has acted as an advisor at various stages of Gill's development and he is delighted to be given the chance to manage an athlete he rates as the finest junior New Zealand has ever produced.
“I am very pleased to be helping Jacko,” explains Mills. “I get pleasure out of seeing him compete and it will be wonderful to see Jacko evolve.
“We have put together an all-round group of people loosely called 'Team Jacko.' “Since he’s been about 12 (years old), he’s been driven internally to succeed. From such a young age he was motivated to set goals. I’ve never met anyone in track and field that has the event maturity that Jacko has. Having said that he need to be surrounded by a team that will both protect him and let him develop without pushing too hard. He needs special care. He doesn’t want to be coached in a way that he doesn’t want a part of. He understands very deeply what he is doing.”
Mills believes adjusting to competing with a heavier shot as a senior and the switch from junior into senior competition can take time and a strong support team can aid this process. However, the former discus and shot put specialist insists that injuries, particularly competing with a 7.26kg shot, can also take its toll.
“Jacko is a very strong young man and one of the challenges is to make sure he gets stronger but it is important he doesn’t lose his explosive mobility,” explains Mills. “Many shot putters are thickset, very powerful men – but these are the guys that don’t necessarily win. The other area we need to look at is the technique he had when throwing the 6kg (junior) shot is just as good, if not a little bit better when throwing the 7.26kg senior shot.”
Gill's next committed target is to compete at the New Zealand Championships, which take place in Wellington from March 28-30. Beyond that the shot put ace hopes to feature in the Commonwealth Games, which take place in Glasgow in July.
Yet Mills is sensibly taking a patient approach with Gill – his long-term development key.
“His hand and ankles are sound, his mobility and his explosive work are sound and the training distances are good,” explains Mills.
“What this will translate to (in competition) we don’t know yet. We are looking more at Jacko’s evolution that will take him all the way to Rio. Let’s take a steady as she goes approach, because the reality is the transition from juniors to seniors will take at least a couple of years.”