Jacko Gill, 16, shotputter

Didier Poppe is warning against high expectations of 16-year-old shot put star Jacko Gill at next year’s Olympics, but in the same breath he says anything is possible for this remarkably talented Kiwi athlete.

Gill brushed aside a finger injury to continue his record-breaking feats at the world youth under-18 athletics championships in France yesterday, destroying his older rivals again in winning gold in Lille.

The Aucklander beat his own world age group record by nearly 0.5m, with his longest throw of the 5kg orb a whopping 24.35m.

Second placegetter, American Tyler Schultz, was exactly 4m shorter with his best throw as the 12-strong field trailed in the wake of the phenomenal talent.

Such was Gill’s dominance, the worst of his six throws was still 1.6m further than Schultz, as he became first athlete to breach the 24m distance with a 5kg shot in official competition.

“There is no question his rivals knew they were competing for second,” Poppe, Gill’s coach, said from France yesterday.

"It was like they thought he was coming from another planet.

"I’m pretty sure if he did not have the injury, he would have made it over 25m.

“He was in discomfort, it was painful and it was absolutely remarkable that he managed to throw that far.”

Gill, who broke the New Zealand senior record with a 20.01m throw in April, believes he will be able to throw 21m with the 7.26kg senior sphere before the end of the year.

That distance should be good enough to make the final at London next year, but Gill believes he can go further and even win a medal at the Olympics.

Poppe is cautioning against high public expectation, however, saying Rio de Janeiro in 2016, by which stage Gill will still only be 21, is when he could start contending for Olympic gold.

But such is Gill’s astonishing development, Poppe won’t rule anything out.

“With Jacko, he develops faster than what we believe possible,” Poppe said.

“It’s the first time we’ve seen someone doing this so we can’t really make any predictions.”

Having won gold at last year’s world junior under-20 championships in Canada at the age of 15, when he threw a 6kg shot 20.76m, Gill becomes the second New Zealander to claim gold at world junior and youth level.

The feat was also achieved by Olympic champion Valerie Adams in 2001 and 2002.

And to highlight his talent, he joins Usain Bolt, the fastest man ever over 100m and 200m, as the only person to win the world youth title while holding a world junior crown.

“I’m just stoked to have done well,” Gill said. "The way training was going I knew that I was going to throw in the 23m range.

Ad Feedback “I’ve had a break from school and I’ve been training six, seven hours a day and that’s all I do. I’ve been getting really fast and working on my speed, rather than that typical big shot put build,” said Gill who, at 96kg, is a comparative lightweight by the sport’s standards.

His rapid progression has him believing he is on track to be the first person to break the world senior record (currently 23.12m) by the age of 20.

But first he wants to break the world junior record at a meet in Sweden later this month, though Poppe said he could miss the Diamond League event because of his injury.

“We might have to come back to New Zealand and get medical treatment for this problem so we can start to prepare for the Olympics, which is the main objective,” Poppe said.

“We need to find out whether it is possible for him to throw without doing any more damage.”

Meanwhile, the International Association of Athletic Federations has rejected Gill’s bid for dispensation to compete at the senior world championships in Korea next month.

There are age restrictions on throwing events and Gill is too young to compete, though his injury could have ruled him out anyway. The Press

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