THEY TOLD him to stop, warned that he’d never progress and advised him that, essentially, he was wasting his time – but, crucially, John Kelly didn’t listen to the noise.
Just under two years ago now, a bad injury to his left leg had raised the dissenting voices.
Kelly knew he could bounce back. Rather than listen to the hysteria, the St Johnston man defied it.
Last year, the Finn Valley AC shot put thrower reached over 18 metres for the first time and yesterday he set a new Ulster indoor record on his way to winning the Irish Senior Indoor title.
“The standards are being set so high so I have to raise my standards,” Kelly told Donegal Daily/Donegal Sport Hub today.
“I had a hard few years fighting back from injury. I lost the power in my left leg in 2018 and missed a lot of that year. I got myself back on track and 2019 was about building myself up the rankings again.
“People said to leave the sport and that my time was done. People around me encouraged me and helped to give me belief on a daily basis.
“We’re a nation of doubters and we don’t believe. We don’t think we’re good enough. You have to think you’re good enough and you belong on the stage.”
After taking silver in the Irish Senior Championships last July, Kelly broke his Ulster, Donegal and Finn Valley outdoor records three times on the one day in Portugal. He had throw out to 18.01m in Sweden a few weeks beforehand, but in Portugal the mark ultimately went out to 18.50m.
The next target is to break 19m and Kelly has been training and preparing alongside some of the world’s top throwers in Iceland and Sweden of late. He counts the likes of Daniel Stahl among his training partners and he’ll aim to compete in the forthcoming European Throws Cup as he builds steadily towards European Indoors in early 2021.
He said: “I’ll be out of my depths, but I’ll be fighting.
“You can’t be the big fish in the small pond. It’s being the small fish in the big pond and growing. You have to get out and work with the best athletes and best coaches.
“Reykjavik was a big boost for me. It drove me forward and let me know where i was at. I was working for a good while around professional athletes in Sweden too. You have to push the boundaries and go to these places to make yourself better.”
Listen to the full interview below …Tags: