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Discus is a sport for big men, right? Even Julian Wruck, one of Australia’s most promising throwers, thought so until he got big and his throwing deteriorated. Then he realised bigger is not always better.
Wruck has shed 17 kilograms in six weeks before the Commonwealth Games, in the belief that speed is more important to throwing than size.
He sat down over lunch in Germany and wondered why his form had dropped from the trajectory it was on when he went to the London Olympics, won the national title, won silver at the American college championships and threw a personal best in 2013.
The only difference he could think of was that he was bigger and heavier. That change in weight had previously been his plan – “if I am good now, how good will I be when I am bigger and heavier like the other guys”?
Except it didn’t work. When he got bigger he got slower and his throwing got worse.
“I think there are two different techniques – one for a big person, one for someone small. When you are big, you have lots of muscle mass and lots of tension in your mid-section and your chest and you keep the discus back and you sling it and you keep your muscles like a big elastic band basically,” Wruck said.
“When you are light, you have the ability to spin faster, you may not have as much muscle mass but you are able to spin as fast as you can, keep the discus out as long as possible and block hard.”
He was left with a conundrum not long before the Commonwealth Games.
“I thought, what am I going to do? I have a short amount of time before the Games, I can either bulk up to what I did last year or I can try and lose weight and go the opposite direction and work on my speed as much as possible and that one seemed like the best decision to make,” he said.
Having been a big man with a plan to stay big, he was used to eating large meals, so cutting back was not easy.
“It was hard to cut down on meals, to only eat two small meals a day, but (if) that is what it takes to throw far that’s what I would do,” he said.
“I would eat a big breakfast, no lunch whatsoever and a small dinner and pretty much no carbohydrates. I have lost 15 kilos in five weeks and I have about two kgs to go and the last two will come off easily so I have started to eat a bit more to help in training,” he said during an interview a week out from the games.
His plan had been to resume eating carbohydrates and eating more substantially in the days before competition, knowing he needed the energy to compete.
On Wednesday, he will find out if his plan has worked. He has not been throwing his best, but feels a 65-metre throw is in him.
“I definitely think I am in the mix,” he said.