28th October 2020
FUTURES IN FOCUS - LEWIS BYNG
At the end of a mad year, Lewis Byng (coach: Stuart Carlaw; club: Stratford-upon-Avon) is happy to cap off his season with two British Under-20 records and a place amongst the world’s top junior athletes in the shot put.
Having claimed the British indoor record courtesy of a 19.18m throw back in February, Byng capped off his season in fine form as he broke the British U20 outdoor record three times in as many weeks, adding to his silver medal at the British Championships in September.
Having first thrown a 19.71m effort to clinch the record, he added a further two centimetres the following week, before capping his season in the circle off by becoming the first British Under-20 in history to break the 20.00m mark with his record throw of 20.26m in Moulton.
After moving top of the standings and breaking the all-time British record three times in as many weeks, Byng said: “It’s a really big thing for me. Back in 2018 when I was an Under-17, I threw 19.45m with the five kilo implement and I really wanted to hit the 20.00m but I wasn’t able to do that, so my aim in the Under-20 category was to break the 20.00m mark and I did it in the last comp of what has been a really weird year.
“It wasn’t as good of a series in the first competition and I wanted 20.00m in the first competition but it didn’t come, so I knew it would take some timing changes to get the big throw out. I threw two throws over the mid-19m mark and with 19.71m on the board, I wanted more.
“I looked unhappy in the video but it was more a case of I wasn’t satisfied and I knew that there was more to come and the next week I had a much better series. All of the throws bar one I think were over 19.29m and it took the one big throw in the final competition to get the record and break 20.00m and thankfully I did.”
Byng originally starting out in the sport as a runner and long jumper, but knee injuries put pay to any chance of that event path coming to fruition, but upon returning to athletics, throwing events became his new focus.
After starting off again with the javelin, Byng found a passion for shot put quickly followed, and having watched YouTube tutorials to improve his technique, his rise in the sport has been even more impressive.
“In 2013, I got injured for six months because I messed up both my knees and had to wait for them to heal. I went into throwing off the back of those injuries, starting with the javelin in 2014/15, with shot put following at roughly the same time.
“Originally I did enjoy the javelin more but I got a lot better at shot put much quicker because I grew a lot and got much stronger. I remember opening the season with an English Schools standard and since that competition, everything has been on the up.
“Back in the season of 2017 and 2018, I didn’t have a coach, so I was doing different techniques and finding out what worked for me. I was using YouTube and Instagram to watch the professionals and seeing what they did well and how I could implement their technique to benefit me in my own throws. Then when I got a coach back at the end of 2018 in Stuart Carlaw and things have really kicked on from there.”
His performances have earned him a spot on the British Athletics Futures Academy Programme, a programme funded by the sport’s governing body to support athletes who have the potential to win medals at future international competitions.
To be a part of the programme means a great deal to the teenager and with the trajectory path that his career is currently on, to have the support of British Athletics in his corner is something he hopes will allow him to continue to flourish.
He added: “The learning aspects of the programme are really beneficial and having access to things like strength and conditioning and the psychology aspects are the best things for me.
“Hugh [Gilmore] on a psychology side of my career has been really beneficial on a competition side of things in getting me ready for comps or training, what I think about and how I can improve.
“I work and engage with all aspects of the programme and I would say that me and Stuart are like a dynamic duo, we’re a really good pairing and work well together. With the help and support of everyone on the programme that we can work with, it helps to create a much better all-round package for the pair of us that will be beneficial moving forwards.”
After earning an eighth place finish at the European Under-20 Championships in 2019 and having not had an international championship to focus on in 2020 following the cancellation of the World Athletics Under-20 Championships in Kenya, Byng wants to come out all guns blazing at the European Under-23 Championships in Bergen next year.
In his mind, he already has an idea of what it is going to take for him to be able to cut it and compete with some of the world’s best, but wants to make sure that he is in the strongest position possible to come away with a medal in 2021 from the championships.
“I came eighth at the under-20s and I wanted to perform well at the World Championships before that got cancelled, but now that I have a good winter block ahead, I can try and make my mark and throw the standard early.
“I want to throw a medal winning distance at the Europeans. I don’t just want to be a finalist at the Europeans, I want to be a medallist at the age of 19.
“I can guess who will be at the competition next year and I have a good idea of what they’ll do when they’re there from following them on Instagram and talking to them, so I think I know what I need to put in in order to get to a point where I can challenge them,” he asserted.