Fri 1 Mar 19
Harry Hughes, a third year student in Sports and Exercise Science, has marked his return from career-threatening injury with the best throw by a Briton since 2012 and selection for Team GB.
Hughes, aged 21, is one of nine athletes included in the British squad for the European Throwing Cup and will lead the U23 team.
The Stowmarket-based athlete first represented his country in 2015, aged just 17, and over the next two years racked up appearances at both the European and World Junior Championships.
But following his victory at the British University Championship in May 2017, he realised he needed to address the pain in his elbow, which dated back to an injury sustained in 2015.
The source of the pain was identified as the growth plates in his right elbow, the issue exacerbated by the stress of elite competition. The best option for a solution was a specialised surgical procedure:
“When they put it to me, they said, ‘We don’t really know what the outcome is going to be, but it’s the only thing we can do.
Surgeons inserted two screws in Harry’s elbow: “There was a lot of concern that the screws would snap when I threw again, but - touch wood - that hasn’t happened yet.”
Hughes’ rehabilitation has been long and complex:“When I tried to throw again last summer, it just felt completely alien. So there was a bit of time last year when I was a bit low and thinking, ‘Will I ever be able to get back to where I used to be?”
The West Suffolk athlete finally returned to competition on Sunday 24 February, throwing a personal best of 78.89 metres: “There was a hell of a lot of anxiety leading into it, but I personally knew I was in shape and to be fair was probably the most confident I’ve been.”
Hughes is splitting the third year of his degree across two academic years, to allow him to focus on his return to competition, and has received significant support from the School of Sports, Rehabilitation and Exercise Sciences.
“During the first couple of years, they helped me out with nutrition plans and still, to this day, they help me out with my body composition.
“When I was coming back from my surgery, I worked with Justin Mills, the Strength and Conditioning Coach. I’d also like to say thank you to Chris McManus and Kelly Murray.”
The European Throwing Cup will take place on 9 and 10 March in Samorin, Slovakia. Hughes has high hopes:“It’s a great way to start the season off. When I went there two years ago, I came fourth and I was at the bottom end of the age group. So I would like to come away with a medal this year. Obviously a gold would be ideal, but I just want to go there, come away with a medal and throw over 80 metres. That’s the plan.”
And the 21 year old is already looking further afield:
"Let’s say that I threw over 83 metres. I’d qualify for the Olympics, for the senior World Championships. There’s a good chance that I could, all of a sudden, jump up.”