News & Updates

9 November 2023 • Community

Athletics for Everybody – Connor Bell

The development of New Zealand discus record holder Connor Bell has been massively aided by his near decade-long association with the North Harbour Bays club. Credit: Michael Dawson (right image)

In the last of our series of Athletics for Everybody features we chat to World Championship discus finalist Connor Bell who enthuses about the strong backing he has been given by the North Harbour Bays club.

Discus star Connor Bell credits the outstanding support and encouragement he received from his club as playing a pivotal role in his future success.

The 22-year-old thrower has enjoyed a memorable season twice breaking the New Zealand men’s discus record and climaxing his campaign by placing tenth in the final at the World Athletics Championships in Budapest.

However, the Auckland-based thrower has not forgotten the key part several personalities at North Harbour Bays played in his career development.

First discovering an ability to throw the discus at intermediate school he later joined the North Shore-based club from the age of 13.

Initially working with throws coach Sasha Pilkington he quickly thrived in the club environment and greatly values her input during his formative years in the sport.

“She was very encouraging and supportive, which was really important because not all kids experience that. I am very lucky that I continued to receive that throughout my career when coached by Didier Poppe, Dame Valerie Adams, Mike Schofield and today with my current coach Kirsten Hellier.”

Connor also feels fortunate to have consistently received support from senior members at the club, notably Dave Norris – the former Commonwealth Games long and triple jump medallist.

“Dave was a huge source of encouragement and motivation for me and that was really important as my journey in the sport progressed,” adds Connor. “He was always present, chatty and curious. He used to tell me when I was aged just 15 that I would become the greatest men’s discus thrower in New Zealand, which, as you can imagine, was hugely motivating.”

Over the past decade Connor has excelled in his sport. He is the holder of every age group national discus mark from U17 to seniors and struck gold at the 2017 Commonwealth Youth Games and 2018 Youth Olympics in Buenos Aries.

Athletics has given him so much and he believes the work ethic required to excel in athletics is a major drawcard.

“You might be the best player on the rugby field but because you are part of a team you can still lose,” he explains. “In athletics you are usually rewarded for the amount of effort you put in.”

Connor still has best days ahead of him and believes another huge attraction of the sport is the opportunities the sport presents whatever the level.

“Athletics is a tight, close-knit sport which presents so many epic opportunities. It can open so many doors whether that is to improve you physically, a pathway into other sports or a mechanism to improve in other fields. I would say to any youngster give the sport a go because you don’t know where it can take you.”

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