Athletics ace Walton goes from netball hopeful to javelin champion

·4-min read
Walton is now a double British champion having defended her title in June
Walton is now a double British champion having defended her title in June

Javelin prospect Bekah Walton believed she was destined to be a netballer but her mum - and dog - had other ideas, writes Sportsbeat's Milly McEvoy.

The 22-year-old only started athletics to help develop her netball skills but the Loughborough University student quickly discovered a talent for throwing.

She was roped into keeping her dog entertained by hurling balls for it to chase and her mum then sent her to Burton Athletics Club to try javelin. The rest, as they say, is history.

The Derby ace has since become British champion and is targeting Olympic and Commonwealth glory - a far cry from shooting goals on the netball court.

“I wanted to try [athletics] but, in my head, I wanted to go do sprints to improve my netball skills, so I went along to Burton Athletics Club, which was my local club, and I went to try out,” explained Walton, who has been selected to be part of the Team England Futures programme with Commonwealth Games England and SportsAid.

“My mum was pestering me to try javelin because I could throw a ball pretty far. The same dog I've got now, when she was a puppy, my mum was throwing the ball launcher, I would catch it and throw it back just normally.

“That's how I learned to throw far, so she kept pestering me to take athletics seriously and I didn't really want to. But the coach was there that night, so I just got put in the group, like, ‘right, off you go, you're trying javelin’ and I loved it.

“I really enjoyed it and I was quite naturally quite good for a beginner and then it just ended up replacing the netball.

“I got my first national title about 16 months after first picking up a javelin and then I've not really looked back since.”

The Team England Futures programme will see over 1,000 talented young athletes and aspiring support staff given the opportunity to attend the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, watch live sporting action and take a first-hand look behind-the-scenes.

The programme seeks to better prepare athletes to deliver medal-winning performances as either Team England, Team GB or ParalympicsGB debutants at future Games, while also giving support staff a first-hand look at the opportunities they could be presented with, as well as challenges they may face, at a multi-sport competition.

Walton got hooked on the euphoric feeling of watching the javelin fly out of her hand, a sight she has seen thousands of times since.

The most significant instance was at the 2021 British Championships, where the mechanical engineering student held her nerve to win the women’s javelin title with a personal best of 54m03.

She added: “Last year was my bounce-back year. I threw 53.97m in 2019 and then COVID and the passing of my dad meant I took a dip and I just had to rebuild my confidence and become the thrower I previously was.

“I had to make some big technical changes as well to make this next step forward and it all came together at the British Champs.

“I was coming fourth, I really wanted a medal as I've never got a medal and in my fifth round, I took the lead, but it was only with a 50-metre throw, and in the last round I managed to throw a PB and that was incredible just because I got my self-confidence back and it was an amazing moment.”

With a huge summer of athletics on the horizon, Walton is turning her focus to qualifying for a home Commonwealth Games, but still has time to throw some balls for her dog.

Commonwealth Games England has appointed SportsAid to lead on the development, management and operational delivery of Team England Futures at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games. You can find out more about the programme by visiting https://www.sportsaid.org.uk/partnerships/team-england-futures/.

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