Norfolk Paralympian Danny Nobbs switches to javelin in pursuit of place at Rio 2016
Norfolk thrower Danny Nobbs has reignited his Paralympic flame with a switch to a new discipline.
Nobbs competed in the shot putt at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, but saw his dream of competing at London 2012 ended after changes to the rules for his throwing frame meant UK Athletics dropped him from their Elite funding programme.
Now the 34-year-old, from Attleborough, has switched to the javelin and has his sights set on the 2016 Rio Paralympics in Brazil.
“My old event has actually been taken out of the schedule for Rio 2016,” Nobbs explained. “So I was left with a big decision to make; did I continue in the sport or consider potentially switching sports?
“We went through some of the skills analysis and ended up at the javelin. I’ve been working really hard over the last year with my coach Tim Newenham and Jose (Fixe, of Vinnies Gym in Attleborough) and have been working on the technicalities of the new discipline and everything is starting to come together for the new season.”
Transition well ahead of schedule
Danny Nobbs is being coached by Olympic and Commonwealth throwing coach, and City of Norwich Athletics Club member, Tim Newenham.
The coach is pleased with the progress they have made so far, saying: “It’s quite a challenge to switch across events at Paralympic level.
“In the 90s I used to be national javelin coach in the era of Steve Backley and Nick Hill, so I know about the discipline and the sport and I can honestly say that the transition that Dan has had has been one of the swiftest.
“He’s two to three months ahead of schedule.”
Newenham has high hopes the Attleborough thrower can achieve his dream of competing at the 2016 Rio Paralympics.
“I don’t think Danny would want to put all this time and effort in, as he does, without that realistic chance of making it to Rio, which he has,” Newenham added.
“He’s just had his first competition and put on more than two and a half metres, that’s a phenomenal improvement, percentage-wise, it’s massive.”
Nobbs works for Aviva in Norwich, with a focus on the insurance giant’s sponsorship of Norwich City, so finding time to practise is not easy.
That means regular early practise sessions at Easton College from 7am before he even starts his working day. Once there he is using a new throwing frame which has been developed at the Caterham Technology base at Hingham, from a concrete pad especially made for him by the college’s students.
Nobbs, who was paralysed from the chest down in a motorbike crash at the age of 17, continued: “London 2012 is playing a big part. Obviously it was massively disappointing to not be selected, that was always my goal to be selected and compete in London 2012.
“I think I’m actually harnessing that disappointment into focus towards making 2016 so it’s good in driving me forward.”
The former shot putter says he has had a “very encouraging” start to his javelin season, after throwing 21.60 metres at his first competition of the year at Kingston in south west London on Sunday.
That improved on his best competitive effort of 18.86m at Stoke Mandeville last September and Nobbs says he is aiming to consistently be throwing over 22m by the time he travels to Swansea for the European Championships in August.
And he is confident he has what it takes to then kick on and make sure he is on the plane to Rio in 2016, adding: “It would feel like a hell of a comeback to be honest. It was bitterly disappointing to miss out and not be selected for London 2012.
“After competing in Beijing in 2008 and the World Championships in 2011, I got a taste for what it was like to be a part of Team GB.
“I think it’s every athlete’s dream to represent their country, so I’ll be going for Rio in 2016.”
Do you know someone aiming for sporting glory? Contact sports reporter David Freezer on 01603 772418 or firstname.lastname@example.org