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Shotputter John Nicholls can enjoy Christmas feast ahead of World title shot
CHRISTMAS can be tricky for athletes, but for European Masters shot put champion John Nicholls it is usually a green light for a festive face-stuffing.
While other athletes might have to exercise some self-control as the mince pies and other Christmas treats come out, shot putters and weight lifters like John are more than happy to fill their boots as fuel for the weights sessions to come.
But this year Nicholls is trying a new tactic as he prepares for the World Masters Championships in Budapest in March.
“The beauty of being a shot putter is I can eat what I want most of the time,” he said.
“Carbo-load over Christmas normally!
“Though funnily enough one of the things that I thought let me down last year was my weight.
“I was a little bit too big at 17st10 and there is no point being big if you can’t physically use it to your advantage.
“Now I’m leaner, have a little bit more range and am quicker, but I still have the strength I did when I was a stone heavier.
“Hopefully it will allow me to throw up to 15m when it comes to the big competitions.”
And his weight is not the only obstacle Nicholls has had to overcome in the last few years.
“There is no getting away from the fact that I am 48 years of age and getting on a bit now,” he admitted.
“About six months after my 45th birthday I seemed to lose quite a lot of range of movement and speed.
“A lot of the power athletes I work with have told me about this, you just lose distance for no apparent reason, it just goes.”
This could have spelled disaster for a man desperate to dominate the world of veterans shot put, but a simple change of training plan has led to Nicholls producing consistently good competition results, most recently a European Indoor title in March and a Loughborough University Open Age title with a throw of 14.06m just a few weeks ago.
“What I did was change the way I trained, including more troughs and less peaks,” he said.
“As a result my strength levels are pretty much what they were 20 years ago.”
Nicholls hopes this continues ahead of his Northern Indoor Championships appearance in January, which may well be the final warm-up for his World title shot in March.
Though he believes the Birmingham Games could be a back-up should his Northern preparations go awry.
“If I put pressure on myself ahead of the Worlds having thrown 14.50 at the Northerns then that’s a good position,” he said.
“I don’t like to dilute that by throwing in too many competitions, so the Birmingham games are only there in case my Northern preparation does not go well.
“If the Northerns go well, then I’ve got my confidence and I’ll prepare straight away for the Worlds.”