Games spot in sights
WITH his junior days behind him, Cairns' Robert Johnston plans on climbing the Australian men's hammer throw ranks this season, as he eyes a spot on the 2014 Commonwealth Games team.The 19-year-old, who is based in Townsville studying medicine at James Cook University, set a personal best of 59.45m with the 7.26kg hammer in Hobart earlier this month in what was an encouraging start to the year.
Johnston hopes to improve that mark to 65m at next month's Athletics Australia meetings in Adelaide and Hobart or April's national titles.
If he can, he'll qualify for the World University Games in Russia (July 6-17) and put himself in selection contention for the Glasgow Commonwealth Games come 2014.
Representing Australia is all Johnston wants to do.
He wore the green and gold at the world junior athletics championships in Spain last July and dreams of donning the colours at senior level as well.
But Johnston isn't in a hurry. Glasgow would be nice, but he knows hammer throw isn't a young man's game.
It takes years to hone the strength and technique to become a world-class competitor.
"I'm still pretty young in terms of hammer throw," Johnston said.
"If you looked at the last Olympics, the average age of the competitors was between 28 and 31, while the average age of the winners was 37, so I've got a lot of time to get there.
"As a basic guide, if you can throw 70m when you're 20-21, then there's a good chance you'll get to 80m.
"No Australian has ever done that before. If you can do that, you'll be winning medals at world championships and Olympics."
Since competing at the world juniors, Johnston has been offered three athletic scholarships from US colleges.
They're tempting offers, but Johnston isn't ready to leave Australia yet.
"It's something I'd like to do after I've finished my degree. Maybe when I do my masters or something," he said.
"They've got something like 1200 athletes in the college system alone."
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Power: Robert Johnston has a Commonwealth Games hammerthrow spot in his sights.