Denny throws challenge to the world
He has grand plans of taking over the athletics world, but first Matty Denny wants to make history at GC2018.
Denny claimed silver in the men's hammer throw with a personal best he described as 'ugly' and tonight he will try to become the first athlete to medal in both the hammer throw and discus since 1938.
"I'm just glad to be among the medals. The sky's the limit from now on," he said.
"There was a lot of work in the last 12 months that went into this moment, so I'm happy to show my team what we're all about."
When he competed at the 2016 Rio Olympics, he was the baby-faced 19-year-old country boy from a small country town near Toowoomba, competing against seasoned veterans.
His nearest contemporary was three years older than him, most were a decade or more.
Denny has an acute sense of where he stands in the world of hammer throw and discus.
While he describes his 19th place at the Olympics as disappointing, Denny already has his sights on a medal at the XXI Commonwealth Games.
"Because I’m up and coming and still an underdog, there is still a potential for me to medal or even do better, to have a chance to do that at a Commonwealth Games, at home, I think about that every day," Denny told GC2018.com.
"It gives me goosebumps."
Denny has a strong belief in his own ability, matched by a heightened sense of realism. At 19, he became just one of a handful of athletes in history to throw a discus over 65 metres.
His personal best hammer throw of 73.37m in March last year, was the longest by an Australian for over 11 years, since Stuart Rendell who won the Melbourne Commonwealth Games title in 2006.
He knows that achievement has him tracking well compared to former Olympic champions at the same age, but he is also conscious that it counts for naught without putting in the work and constantly striving to improve. Even then, there is no guarantee of success.
"I think there is three or four other people in history that have thrown that distance at that age," he explained.
"I’m well ahead of Olympic champions of late at the same age, that is a good indicator, but of course it doesn’t mean things are going to work out like that.
"We are relentless with improvement and finding the best way to throw and the best way to get me in shape. We are taking our time and just building each time we go out."
Denny has always been a big kid, it’s why athletics seemed a natural fit from the moment his teachers encouraged him to throw as far as he could and he obliged by throwing objects straight over their heads.
But his drive and passion to improve was forged by early disappointment. As a 12-year-old, Denny went to the state championships full of hope and confidence, however finished last at both the discus and shot put.
It was a bitter pill for the year seven student to swallow. It prompted him to find a coach and while Graham Pitt already had a pretty full squad, it took one look at the ungainly throwing style of Denny and he was hooked.
"I got a bit sick of coming last," he said.
"I got a coach and we went from last in the state to second in the country and a few years later we won world youth championship (2013) and then in 2016 we made the Olympics.
"We have come such a long way in such a short space of time, especially from a small town, I’m the only Olympian from Allora."
"The relationship I have with my coach is quite special. He’s taught me since I was a kid and pretty much everything I know.
"When he saw I was built like a monkey, I had big long arms, I was very tall and I had the build for a discus thrower, then when he saw the distances I was throwing with the technique I had, he was hooked.
"The biggest change that we’ve made is with technique, I was basically throwing backyard style and had no technical aspect to what I was doing."
Since those hearty days, Denny has come an incredible way and his coach has been there for every step. They’ve been told numerous times that he is wasting his time trying to compete in both events, that he should focus on one discipline.
But Denny is steadfast in his belief that not only can he compete in both, but he can thrive and create his own slice of history.
"I’ve had plenty of people tell me I shouldn’t be doing both that I should focus on one. We actually find they help each other with conditioning," he said.
"I’ve been doing it long enough and figured out things that everything is possible. Then end goal is to win every major.
"Two of my biggest goals in throwing is to get over the 70m barrier for discus and 80m barrier for hammer throw. It would mean I would hold both Australian records.
"The biggest goal is to win to Olympic golds in Discus and Hammer in the same Olympics."
Big goals for a big country kid.
Tickets are still available to see the men’s hammer throw final (session AT0902) and men’s discus throw preliminaries (session AT1201). Get your tickets now.