Ben's having a shot at gold in Tassie
By GREG WHITE
FULL of confidence and enthused about his sport, Ben Fitzgerald-Hall heads to Tasmania next week in search of a shot put gold medal at the national PSSA titles.
A silver medal at the State championship in the boys Under-13 age group won Ben his ticket but it's taken him time to warm to the sport since Les McMahon, his principal at Nambucca Heads Public School and sometime coach and mentor suggested he diversify in field athletics.
"I made it to state level last year in discus but when Mr McMahon asked me to try shot put I didn't like the idea at first," 12-year-old Ben said.
"But after trying it I started to warm to the idea and even though I still do discus, this is now my main thing.
"At the moment I train and throw with the 3kg shot put but go up a kilo next year."
During the visit, Ben challenged the Coffs Coast Advocate to try out using the 4kg weight.
The writer threw four metres and photographer Brendan Ray managed a little further before the youngster left both red-faced with a mighty (almost) seven metre toss.
Last weekend at the Tri-series in Coffs Harbour, Ben took on the Under-17s and trounced them.
Coach McMahon believes Ben is nowhere near his full potential.
"So far he's achieved on natural ability but could improve by as much as two metres once he gets his technique sorted out," he said.
"At present Ben only uses his upper body strength and by the time he learns balance, foot placement and how to use his whole body, anything is possible.
"He's working with stretches, medicine ball and sprint training to build muscle and is always a willing learner."
The Nambucca community and sponsors are right behind Ben, raising almost $2000 for the trip to Launceston in the 10 days since his selection.
And he won't be travelling without a friendly face in support, as teacher Sandy Fenning will also tour as New South Wales team manager.