Opportunities opening up for young Waikato shot putter Ryan Ballantyne

Opportunities opening up for young Waikato shot putter Ryan Ballantyne

26 February 2016

It took a failure for Ryan Ballantyne to know shot put was his thing.

After throwing a Waikato record 19.08m last March, he headed off to the World Youth Games in Colombia in July, but was unable to muster up a throw of note, finishing 21st out of 31 contenders.

He returned home disappointed – and that’s when he knew he was ready to make a real go of it.

"When I felt that, that’s when I really knew this was for me, and I wanted to carry on and do well in it, so I guess from then it was meant to be," he said.

"Since coming back I know what I need to be to be the best. My head’s a lot more in the game and I've got people supporting me that are pushing me a lot harder than I have ever been pushed before.

"My support team are helping me out and now that I know that I want it, I can put the hard yards in."

His main goal at the moment is to qualify for the World Under-20 Championships in Poland in July, which will require throwing 18.6m with a 6kg shot – his efforts last year in under-18 competitions were all done with a 5kg shot, where his personal best now stands at 19.53m.

While Ballantyne’s focus is on the 6kg, he has also had the chance to step up to open competition.

Earlier this month, he was invited to throw at The Big Shot event in Christchurch, where he came fourth, behind winner Jacko Gill and two Australians.

That was the 17-year-old’s first competitive throw with a 7.26kg shot, and he said he definitely noticed a difference.

"It does slow you down. It’s a lot different to the lighter weights. I'm not strong enough to throw very well with it yet, but I quite liked it. It gave me more time with the shot. I could think about it a lot more because I wasn't rushing it."

Ballantyne has just started his final year at St Paul’s Collegiate School, where he has been made a prefect, and is having to come to terms with the heavy workload that entails.

"I am struggling a wee bit, but outside of my six subjects I have two study periods, and in those study periods I sit down and catch up on work and in one of them it will be planning for the training session that afternoon, or getting my head around stuff like that.

"The most important thing is I have to be organised."

The big event Ballantyne is building towards now is the New Zealand national championships, which are being held in Dunedin on the first weekend of March.

There, he wants to defend his under-18 title, as well as take out the under-20 title.

Come the end of the year, he will also be going for his third national secondary school title in a row.

In between, whether he makes it to the World Under-20 Championships or not, there are sure to be plenty more events coming his way.

"Things are all opening up now, which is pretty awesome to see."

(Source: ANDREW VOERMAN - Waikato Times)