Discus thrower Jade Lally has the real potential to secure an Olympic medal in Rio this year, according to her coach.
Andrew Neal, who has trained the athlete since the age of 14, believes she could be on the podium at the games after breaking two records last week.
The 2014 Commonwealth Games bronze medallist broke two English records in training in Australia on the way to winning the New South Wales Open Championships.
She first threw 64.22m at the Auckland Track Challenge in New Zealand last Thursday, but then improved on that again with a distance of 65.10m in Sydney.
Those throws have seen her qualify for Rio, although she now has to gain selection by placing first or second in the British trials in June.
But despite that final obstacle, Neal feels Lally is ready to reach the big time and strive for an Olympic medal.
He said: “By throwing 63 metres in the qualifying rounds, we feel this would make the final top 12 (at the Olympics).
“Once in the final, who knows what could happen? 65 metres could win a medal. Her mindset will be critical to this. She has learnt so much since her 2012 disappointment, and this showed in Glasgow’s Commonwealth Games where we had never seen her so focussed. Our aim – is making the final.
“We have made some significant changes to her technique. So with these coming to fruition now, and coinciding with her getting stronger and faster – greater distances are being seen.
“Her attitude has been really good throughout the winter too.”
Her last major blow saw her fail to reach the qualifying standard and was consequently not selected for the British team to compete at the London 2012 Olympics.
That came from a series of injury problems, but having won bronze in Glasgow two years ago, things are looking up for Lally.
She said: “So I have finally hit an Olympic standard that will allow me to automatically qualify for the Games, as long as I finish in the top two at the trials.
“Not many people will understand what the last four years have been like. It’s annoying to keep telling the same story about the decision for the last Olympics with such a bitter taste in my mouth, but hopefully it’ll all change from now on.
“The reason I have done well on this trip isn’t down to one sole thing. It’s a number of things. I have worked hard for five years in getting to Olympic standard.
“Unfortunately, I have had my fair share of medical problems that have overshadowed the progress I had made.
“And although I came off funding last year, I had saved enough money to not have to change my plans in my Olympic build up.
“I have trained uninterrupted since August last year and have put myself in the right environment, both in the UK and here in Australia.”
On what has brought about her new-found distance, Neal revealed: “The first and biggest thing is that she has not had to undergo major surgery. In each of the preceding four years she was dogged by kidney problems – having had kidney stones removed multiple times.
“Secondly, she has been able to train uninterrupted since August 31. With the help of her medical support team at Bridgeham Clinic in Ifield and Solent University, we established a great program to prevent injury occurring and develop to fitness.
“This enabled her to undertake all the physical and technical training that was required to make the gains she needed.
“Thirdly, in Australia she set up a near-perfect training situation. Living with relatives, training at the Sydney High Performance Centre and linking up with Commonwealth gold medallist Dani Samuels and her coach.
“The weather is perfect to train and compete in and the competition is of a very high standard – Dani is the 2009 world champion.”
Lally’s distance was the longest throw by a British woman since 1983 to move to fourth in the 2016 world rankings.
It also puts her second in the all-time British list behind Scotland’s Margaret Ritchie, who threw 67.48m.
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