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Etwall Rebekah throws herself into the javelin

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: July 19, 2014

DOING WHAT COMES NATURALLY ... Rebekah Walton competing at the English Schools' Athletics Championships

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"EIGHTEEN months ago, all she was throwing was a ball for her dog!" says Rebekah Walton's coach, Barry Hawksworth, of the new English Schools junior girls' javelin champion.

But 18 months ago, John Port School student Walton, now 14, decided to have a go at throwing the javelin – and showed she was a natural.

Still learning what is a technically complex event, she did not travel to the English Schools Championships, in Birmingham, as favourite at the weekend.

She had thrown 36.65 metres to win the Derbyshire Championship for her age group in May and 38.39 metres last month to win the Derbyshire Schools Championship.

Those were good throws but unlikely to be enough to win a medal.

Hawksworth says Walton, from Etwall, was still struggling with her technique in the early rounds at the Alexander Stadium.

The ex-Burton AC athlete qualified for the final stages with a modest 36.41 metres.

"She was struggling – it wasn't quite right," said Hawksworth.

"Bethan Rees, from Cannock, was a nailed on favourite and when she threw well over 42 metres I thought 'that's it, the rest are scrapping for silver and bronze.'

"And then, in the fifth round, Rebekah put everything together..."

Walton's fifth throw sailed out to 43.23, only a metre short of the championship best and a massive new personal best.

There was nothing the rest of the field could do about it and the gold medal was hers, one of six won by young Derbyshire athletes on the day.

Hawksworth, now 67 and still throwing competitively, has coached throwers and sprinters with Derby for many years and seen plenty of young athletes come and go.

"You get these people sometimes," he said, "who come in straight at the top. They've never done the event before but they're a natural.

"Rebekah is one of those. It's still hard work for her because she'd never thrown a javelin before and there is so much technique to learn.

"She'd played netball for Derbyshire and she had to make a choice.

"She started with Burton AC and I coached her there, before her parents decided she should come over to Derby.

"She's still only 14 and all the time I can see that there is so much more to come from her.

"I have never, in all my years in athletics, seen someone come through the ranks as quickly as Rebekah.

"Of course, she has to realise, and I've told her, that it won't always come so easily to her."

Walton's throw was so big it sees her ranked second in the country at under-17, even though she still qualifies as under-15.

It is never wise to over-state the potential of a young athlete, as so many other factors can influence their lives as they go through their teens, but Walton's mother, Caroline, says her daughter is "a very determined young lady" who has always been keen on sport.

"It was still mostly netball until recently," she said.

"Rebekah had tried the discus but javelin was the one she clearly had a talent for and she really only settled on it at Easter. Winning the English Schools, though, has taken us all by surprise and it was a wonderful day.

"I have to say that we wouldn't be where we are without Barry, though. He's been a fantastic support."

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  • mattlong  |  July 21 2014, 4:55PM

    Just to re-emphasise a previous posting I have made- all credit to the coach Barry Hawksworth who it appears coached young Rebekah Walton while she was at Burton AC. Again an example that a good coach and promising athlete can work together regardless of which club they belong to.

  • mattlong  |  July 20 2014, 4:41PM

    Great to read about an ex Burton AC athlete, now with Derby AC. Wish her well for the future.