Q&A WITH… NICHOLAS PERCY

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Country: Scotland

Profession: Athlete – Discus throw

Career highlights:

  • 5x British Champion
  • 3x British U23 Champion
  • 2x World Championships team
  • 2019 Universiade finalist
  • 2013 European Junior Championships silver medallist
  • 2011 World Youth Championships finalist
  • 2011 Commonwealth Youth Games Discus silver medallist and Hammer throw bronze medallist
  • National record – 65m

For you, what is the beauty of the discus throw?

The beauty comes from it being such a challenging and technical event. It’s not an event where it’s the exactly the same every single time – fine movements, small little things make such a large difference. Building on that consistency is where you’re gonna find those big improvements and it’s such a good challenge to try and find that consistency that gives you the big results. It would be easy if it just came naturally, and everyone would do discus if it was simple. So, it is a nice challenge and through that challenge you find the beauty in it and appreciation for the event.

Congratulations on your new Scottish record. Please take us through the moment when the discus is floating in the air after your throw, what thoughts go through your mind at that moment?

Just through the whole throw there isn’t much that goes through my head, normally it’s just one technical point. As soon as it came out my hand, I knew that I’d got a good throw coming and I knew that I got behind it well. It’s more a kind of emotional outburst just because you hope it’s gonna fly well, and when it does go far, there’s nothing really running through your head except for just that kind of enjoyment that you’ve actually had a good throw. Once it’s landed you get to enjoy a few seconds of the unknown – is it 62, is it 66, is it 70 meters.  You are hopeful but you have that adrenaline and natural high waiting. Then as soon as you hear that it’s a PB or it’s a big throw then you kind of just lose your mind.  It is all the hard work, the training and sacrifice that is all accumulated to that one moment. It is a hard one to put into words.

What gave you that confidence to pursue a professional athletics career?

I think the main thing for me was my first ever coach, Ray Scovell, who was a huge motivation for me to want to do athletics from a very young age. He coached me from when I was about 12/13 years old. Unfortunately, he passed away during covid. It’s mainly because of him that I wanted to be a full-time athlete. I always had that dream as a child, but as young kid in school saying you wanna do athletics as a full-time career, everyone just goes “Oh you’re not gonna achieve that”. Pursuing it has always been a dream and it’s led to so many great things, I’ve travelled the world to championships, and I got to go to America for university and got my degree covered because of my athletic performances.  I also get to compete against some of the world’s best and that is such a joy. Ray was the man that inspired me.

What is the WORST advice you have ever been given as an athlete?

I would say the worst advice I’ve ever been told was you are not going to throw far unless you get stronger. When I went to the US I got very strong very quickly and completely lost feeling and timing for the event and that led to a struggle for a few years with throwing. Now strength training facilitates my throwing but is not the key factor that it used to be and I’m throwing so much better. My advice to other athletes would be develop as you develop and don’t follow what everyone else tells you, like I got told to get strong and big and I actually went backwards. Fortunately, I had a good coach to help guide me back to where I am today.

Can you take us through any routines (or superstitions) you may have when you compete?

I used to have superstitions when I was younger but now, I don’t have any superstitious things like a certain top or socks. My routine is very consistent, everything I do in training and competition is very much the same. I do advocate that if you want consistency in competition you have to do exactly what you do in training, and if you want consistency in training, you’ll do the same thing all the time. If you can control all the controllables and get everything that you can in place you will then find those breakthroughs. Sometimes as an athlete you will see someone do a funky warm up or a different stretch/drill and think “I’ll try that”, then you try that on the competition day and it’s not gonna do you any good.

Scotland has a very rich culture and history, and some interesting food! For those that don’t know, can you tell us what haggis is and what does it taste like?

It’s very much a dish that everyone makes slightly differently and it’s a dish that can be very tasty or can be quite disgusting depending on who’s cooking it! It is a very distinctive dish and is traditionally made from a sheep’s heart, lung, and liver and it is mixed with spices or oatmeal and boiled within the intestine of sheep. It does sound disgusting because it is made from part/s of the animal that we wouldn’t normally eat, but it is a very lovely dish.

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