Putting it into perspective

Great Britain Under 20 shot putter, Scott Lincoln, talks to about his journey from a ‘meathead’ chosen to do shot put to becoming a budding Olympic athlete

Image: Paul Wilson

Image: Paul Wilson

“Basically, I was at school. There was a teacher called Mr Burn, he basically said, ‘ah you’re a big lad, you’re doing the shot put.’ And then I started winning most competitions by about two metres.” The tale of how Scott Lincoln got into shot put is not, by any stretch of the imagination, the most interesting part of his journey that has brought him to the cusp of qualifying for the U23 European Championships this year.

I first came across Scott myself last year whilst watching my girlfriend compete in a regional competition. Were it not for being told, I would not have known he had competed for Great Britain until he went up to throw such was his friendliness and approachability.

And then I watched him thrown. It was unbelievable.

Picked out to do the shot put for being a “meathead,” Scott talks of the path that took him from regional competitions to representing his country. “You start off doing regional competitions like York, Leeds and gradually when you throw certain distances you start getting invited to bigger competitions.” It was at these competitions that Scott realised he might be a bit better at shot put than your average meathead.

In 2008, Scott made it to the English Schools Championship, the biggest competition at school level. It was here that he met Paul Wilson, who has been his coach ever since and has been a hugely positive influence.

Before then, the 20-year-old admitted to being a blasé about his development. “I basically did what I wanted. Looking back it was very unprofessional really. As soon as you get a coach you start and learn technique.”

Asked about learning technique, it is clear that, whilst difficult, it is rewarding. “Sometimes you’ve got to take three steps back to take three steps forward. You’ll learn a new technique and your distance will go down but then all of a sudden it will start clicking and it’ll just rapidly go up.”

Naturally, shot put is not all about finesse and Scott is quick to praise his coach, Paul, when it comes to physical training. “He punishes you. He laughs at the time, you don’t. You curse and go on, but at the end of the day you can’t thank him enough when you’re throwing PBs (Personal Bests) week in, week out. You just can’t knock him.”

Scott pictured with his coach, Paul (right) and a teammate from York. Image: Paul Wilson

Scott pictured with his coach, Paul (right) and a teammate from York. Image: Paul Wilson

The off-season is particularly punishing according to Scott, “winter in general is torture, you just put your body in pain.” The pain clearly pays dividends, as he is quick to point out the benefits. “You don’t enjoy it at the time, but afterwards I get a buzz when I’m driving home. Paul likes to keep things quiet to wind us all up but if I text him he’ll tell me what we’re doing and you can expect how much pain you’re going to be in.”

Scott evidently put the time in, and progressed from competing at schools level to participating in the Northern Championships and the UK Championships, both of which he has won.

Soon enough, he was being invited to represent Great Britain. “It’s quite daunting at first. You first get there, go to the kit room, try the kit on and that’s when you feel it best. When you put the kit on for the first time.” It’s the first uttering of nerves in the entire conversation, but his calm attitude soon takes over again. “Then you try and beat the people that you’re up against rather than worry about what you’re wearing.”

Even talking about competitions, Scott comes across as calm and collected. “I seem to be very relaxed. My girlfriend, Sarah, she gets really nervous but I just have it in my mind, what I want to do. I know what shape I am in, what I can achieve.”

There will always be people looking to distract and disrupt preparations, but taking a simple approach is how best to deal with it, according to Scott. “You keep yourself to yourself. They fill your head full of rubbish, they tell you they’re throwing things that they’re not.”

However, representing his country was a step that, at one point, looked unlikely due to Scott struggling with his health. “I was literally getting in from work and nearly falling asleep before my tea was even ready.”

After a diagnosis of anaemia, it became clear that diet needed to be taken more seriously to keep improving. “My Mum booked me into the doctors and it was a lack of iron in my body. He said ‘eat more green veg and get on with it.’”

His growing success saw sponsors come knocking, namely Herbalife 24 and Ed Pratt Sports Therapy. After winning Minster FM’s Sports Hero of the Year award in 2012, they asked Scott to appear in an advert asking for sponsorship.

Scott credits this as one of the many reasons for his success, but is also grateful for the support afforded to him by the people for whom he works. “I’ve just asked [the clients] and they’ve said ‘yeah go on then.’ They’ve give me bits to help towards it, that helps the most.”

One would think that being a budding international shot putter would take up the entire of a week, however Scott has to balance his training commitments with working for his family’s building business. As has been the theme, he is quick to emphasise the support given by others around him rather than his own abilities.

“I work with my brother and my Dad so they’re quite supportive. My Dad will give me time off when I need it. If I need a Friday off for a long weekend he’ll drive me, you can’t complain to be honest.”

I ask him about his future plans, which he and his coach have meticulously planned out. Despite missing out on the Commonwealth Games by a small margin last year, he has not veered away from the three year plan he and his coach have set out.
“[I’ve] got the Europeans U23’s this year which is in touching distance. I’ve got to improve about 60cm for that which is very achievable. Next year, obviously, is the Rio Olympics. I need to improve about a metre next year if this year goes well.”

His friends are kind enough to help me out when I am stuttering on my words slightly, which gets Scott on to talking about his ultimate goal.
“Five years’ time? It’s the Olympics again. I wouldn’t mind meddling in five years’ time. I want to qualify next year, and it’ll be another four years so hopefully I’ll be full time funded by then.”

It seems fitting that the meeting comes to an end with Scott pensive on improvement. “So long as you keep improving, that’s the main thing.”

You can follow Scott on Twitter @shotputtlinco or on Facebook.