Armidale athletics champion Jay Stone has set a goal that requires a focus more “narrow” than anything he has attempted before, and comes at a time when one of his greatest supporters passed away.
The desired end result of that intense single-mindedness is to stand on the podium as the 400 metres gold medallist at the World Masters Athletics Championships in Málaga, Spain, next September.
It would the Armidale-based athlete’s first outdoor world championship gold medal and his crowning glory. His training program to achieve this is 400 days. Friday was day 117.
But if that happens, his grandmother, Pam Chapman (pictured here with Stone and his wife Nina), won’t be there. She passed away last week.
“My grandmother was an important person in our family, she was a talented sportswoman in her youth, and competed at the World Masters Games back in 1994, so I always felt that connection to her,” Stone said
“Many traits that it takes to be successful in sport – determination, strong will, even a bit of stubbornness – seem to have been passed down the family tree from her.”
He is tapping those traits in his current quest.
Stone, the joint winner of the top gong at this week’s New England Sports Star Awards in Armidale, chose this demanding approach after a hamstring injury while competing in Fiji affected his performance at the 2016 World Masters Athletics Championships in Perth, where he finished third in the 400m.
He said: “Usually I have so many different competitions … [But] every other event this year is just training. All the focus is on Spain, the world title. It’s a really narrow focus, and that’s the first time I’ve done that.”
Stone – whose stellar 2017 results include two gold medals at the World Masters Athletics Championships Indoor in Daegu for the 200m and 400m (35-39 age group) – described his preparation for Málaga as a “juggling act”. “But I’ve had a lot of experience doing that,” he added.
“I have an incredibly understanding wife and family. They support everything I do … It takes a lot of time and effort to try and be the best in the world at something.”
Stone’s other 2017 results include gold at the World Masters Games in Auckland for the 4x100m relay and 4x400m relay (30-34 age group).