After 13 years in the sport Mansfield Woodhouse hammer thrower Chris Shorthouse has just enjoyed a fairytale end to the season.
The 27-year-old Birchfield Harrier has just been crowned English champion and a week later gone on to represent his country for the first time, travelling to an international competition in Portugal where he threw over 70m for the first time.
“At the start of the season if anyone had said to me would you have expected to have done this, I don’t think I would have said yes,” he smiled.
“John Pearson, at Loughborough University, has coached me all the way through and he is over the moon for me. He couldn’t have wished for a better season for me.
“He has taken me from a 40m thrower when I first started 13 years ago to where I am today.
“I would pin a lot of my success on his input as well as the support from my family, friends and athletics club Birchfield Harriers.”
Chris won the title of England Athletics Senior Championships men’s champion at Bedford International Athletics Stadium.
“It’s not held every year and I think I’d entered about three or four times, but never won it,” he said.
“It was fantastic to win, though it was a narrow thing as I threw 69.08 and the next guy, Michael Bomba, threw 68.68. It was quite close.
“Because of that I was invited to go out to Portugal to represent England the week after at the EAP International Throwing Meeting in Leiria.
“It was fantastic and just great to be there away with the team and the experience of the weekend as a whole. I was over the moon to compete so well considering that this was the first time I had represented my country.
“I was ecstatic to have my first 70m+ throw at my first international meeting, I couldn’t have asked for a better result.”
He added: “It was back to back competitions Saturday and Sunday with the your best throws from six counting for your overall place.
“Saturday was the main day for me and I threw a new PB of 70.18 which put me second to a Spaniard called Javier Cienfuegos who threw 71.75.
“On Sunday I was fatigued from Saturday and came third with 67.50, but no one threw further than my 70.18 the day before apart from the winner so I still ended up second.
“I didn’t foresee any of this at all. I knew 70m was on the cards. I tailed training off in June so I would peak at the right time and it all came together over three or four weeks, building up nicely with a few 68 throws and a few 69 throws.”
A former All Saints School pupil, Chris began his athletics career with Mansfield Harriers at Berry Hill Park.
“Initially it was luck more than anything,” he said. “My older sister was a sprinter and as I was too young to be left at home when she was training, she used to drag me up to the athletics track – well that’s how it felt at that age anyway.
“I ended up taking up the discuss at about the age of 12 or 13 and progressed into throwing the hammer at 14. It felt a natural progression and I stopped the discus so I could focus on the hammer. So I have been throwing the hammer for 13 years, which is a good length of time.
“I had a brief time with Mansfield Harriers, then I joined Notts AC before going to Birchfield Harriers, who have been brilliant in supporting me and are a fantastic club.
“I work in the steel industry as an estimator and project manager for ECS Engineering in Huthwaite, who have been good with me with my training and competitions and whatnot.”
With the season now over, Chris intends to work hard through the winter to see if he can build on his succes with one eye on the Commonwealth Games in 2018.
“For many years I have done three or four throwing sessions and two or three lifting sessions a week,” he said.
“After some knee operations I am currently training four or five days a week.
“It’s looking good for next year. It’s the end of the season now so I am looking at my winter training and, fingers crossed, I am hoping I can have an injury-free winter.
He added: “I am looking at the Commonwealths in 2018 in Australia. Next year is an Olympic year and the IAAF have set standards very high at 78m to qualify.
“If anyone threw that here it would be a new British record so it’s probably not something I am going to be looking for.
“I am playing the long game and looking at the 2018 Commonwealths, which would be my first Commonwealths if I made it.
“They usually take three athletes per event and I would probably currently go with Nick Miller, who throws 77m, as the next two behind him are both Scottish and would compete for Scotland.”