Interview with Tom Walsh
We had a quick chat with Tom before he headed off to his next round of meets overseas.
Congratulations on the Commonwealth Games! How did it feel winning your first Commonwealth gold medal?
It was great to take the Commonwealth title. There was unfinished business from 2014.
I was also really pleased to throw the Commonwealth record in qualifying, but while I won my distance in the final, it didn’t reflect what I know I’m capable of achieving. That’s kept me hungry for this year’s European season.
How do you prepare for a meet?
Being an athlete means you need to be very good at doing nothing between training and meets. I generally have a consistent last couple of days leading into a meet, some relatively easy throwing, maintaining my nutrition, some mindfulness stuff and just trying to shut out the distractions.
How do you deal with nerves before a competition?
Wanting to do the best you can always create a level of nervousness, but that’s good and when harnessed properly actually helps me perform well. Over the years I’ve learned to manage the pressure and nerves by acknowledging it and using it. It’s definitely something we work on and think about.
How do you recover after a big event?
Recovery is very important, particularly in the middle of a season when we’ve got a number of events in a short space of time. Immediately after an event I do a bit of stretching and movement stuff, maybe a quick check up with a physio, but most critically never miss a big feed!
How did you realise that shot put was for you?
I played many sports when I was young. Rugby and cricket to a pretty good level but I kept going back to shot. I guess it’s the personal challenge. You can’t hide once they call your name and you walk into the circle ready to throw.
What are your top tips for maintaining a healthy diet?
Nutrition’s an essential part of my world. It’s good that I like food because I need to eat a lot to maintain my optimal weight – up to 6 meals a day.
I keep a really balanced diet. Lots of protein provides the base.
How do you balance being an athlete and also working as a builder?
It’s fair to say that my time on the tools is getting less and less. I did have a good leg over the NZ summer in helping build my own house and I’ve got plenty of projects on now around the house that’ll keep me busy when I’m back in NZ.
Being an international athlete can be a pretty all-encompassing thing so to have other interests – job, study, whatever it might be – is vital for keeping balance. Certainly helps keep me grounded.
What would be your advice to somebody wanting to pursue sport?
While you’re young, play as much sport as you can. Get into everything. Each sport brings with it the need to use and build different skills and all that adds up to help turn you into a real athlete, not just in an athletic sense, but as a sportsperson. No matter what sport you eventually end up in, being an athlete first and foremost gives you a great advantage.
What does Go Strong mean to you?
Go Strong is about motivation, giving it my best at all times. I get reminded of that every morning at breakfast – thanks Anchor.