Stuart Weir's column on Jo Butterfield, really affected m. After a week of frustratrations, I was feeling pretty sorry for myself. Reading the last two stories on the IPC championships, I am sharing Stu's admiration for the IPC athletes and also the idea of that athletes, in all forms, remind us what is important. Taking on challenges and finding what we are truly made of is what makes us athletes or admirers of athletes.
Jo Butterfield found the club throw, and has made the event hers.
I hope you go back and re read each of Stuart Weir's columns this past week on the IPC World Championships and follow them until their end, on 10/31.
Club throw, by Stuart Weir
Paralympic sports are sometimes called "adapted sports" because you take the sport in its original form and adapt it to make it accessible to handicapped people. Take, for example, a track race. The idea remains the same - the person who gets from the start to the finish first wins. But if you cannot see, you run with a guide. If you cannot run, you propel yourself in a wheelchair. If you are a blind long-jumper you cannot see the board so your jump is measured from take-off to landing. In throwing events if your disability affects your balance you are allowed to sit and be strapped in position.
Club throw is different. It is the only athletic discipline which is unique to para-athletics. The IPC throwing events are shot, discus, javelin and club throw.
I googled "club throw" to inform myself. I was referred to an article on the Sky Sports website: "Rory McIlroy v John Daly: Which was the better club throw?" But that did not help a lot.
The object of club throw is simply to throw the club as far as possible The event was introduced for both men and women at the first Summer Paralympic Games in 1960 but was dropped from the women's programme from the 1992 Games but was reinstated for London 2012. It looks like a small baseball bat and weighs a minimum of 397 grams (14.0 oz). In Doha the event was contested by men and women in the F31* and F51* classes.
Jo Butterfield won the women's F51 competition in Doha. What the victory meant to her was obvious from her comments afterwards: "It's really exciting - I can't really explain it to be honest. It's something I've been working towards for the last 18 months and to finally come and do it when it mattered is really special. I knew the throw was there. It's been going really well in training - I was a bit nervous and threw a couple of loose ones, but I just had to execute it. I knew what I had to do and on that third throw it all went to plan. My roommate, Georgie Hermitage, and I have been encouraging each other to do the best we can. We're both new and in awe of the people we are competing with."
Jo was paralysed 5 years ago and first started playing wheelchair rugby before going to a talent identification day to try athletics. She recalls, "At first I did not know what I was doing but very quickly fell in love with the sport. Because of my disability - the function that I have in my hands is pretty limited - club throw was the best event for me".
Jo describes the event like this: "The club looks quite like a baseball bat. It looks quite mean if you have never seen one before. You can throw it any way you want. I grip it in my middle fingers and throw it sideways across my body". Other athletes throw backwards over their head according to the moment they have in their hands and arms.
Jo is a full time athlete supported by British Athletics Podium funding, which enabled her to give-up her day job. Her training involves strength training at the Emirates Arena, Glasgow while she does her throwing in Grangemouth Stadium.
Club throw is an unfamiliar event to those familiar only with non-disabled athletics. But, is there any more kudos in throwing a hammer, than a club?
* The 30s sport classes are allocated to athletes with athetosis, ataxia and/or hypertonia - often conditions associated with cerebral palsy or traumatic brain injury. Athletes in the 31 class compete in a seated position, e.g. in wheelchair racing or using a throwing chair. In the 50s sport classes, all athletes compete in a seated position, either in wheelchair or on a throwing chair, due to impaired muscle power, restricted range of movement, limb deficiency or leg length difference. Again, a lower number indicates a higher activity limitation.