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iEat with Jacko Gill

New Zealand shotputter Jackson “Jacko” Gill talks about his physical training, dietary challenges and his idea of food hell.

Photo/Andrew Cornaga/Photosport
Photo/Andrew Cornaga/Photosport

At 15, New Zealand shotputter Jackson “Jacko” Gill won a gold medal at the 2010 World Junior Championships in Athletics, making him the youngest-ever male junior athletics champion. After breaking multiple junior records, Gill packed his hot plate for the World Championships in Athletics in 2015.

What was the highlight of the 2015 championships? Competing against and meeting athletes I’ve looked up to for years. I was also happy with an eighth-place finish at my first world champs – it was such an intense experience.

What does your training involve? I start training anywhere from 6am to 10am and usually for about six hours a day. If you lift more weights than that a day, you don’t have enough time to recover between sessions. My bests are currently 231kg in the bench press and 271kg in the full squat.

Do you receive personalised nutrition advice? I see the nutritionist about once a year. Being a shot­putter, I have to be quite big, and I’ve always struggled to put on the weight needed. So usually we discuss how I can eat more, but still keep to healthy options.

Do you follow a specific diet? We keep it very simple, making sure I’m not losing weight, because that often means losing muscle and strength. If I’m away for a length of time, the scales are important to monitor any weight change that might occur with a change of diet.

What dietary challenges do you face? The amount of food I have to consume. I’d prefer to eat less and enjoy my food more.

Does your diet change ahead of a major competition? Last year at the pre-camp for the Commonwealth Games, we had to eat out for every meal. There weren’t a lot of options around, so I had Subway at least twice a day for two weeks. I do love cooking my own food, so for the World Championships I packed a hot plate and ate a lot of fresh food.

What nutrition advice have you found helpful? Eat whole foods when you can, but don’t worry if you can’t follow your particular diet perfectly. If you have extremely high expectations leading into a diet and you slip up, there’s more chance of you giving up. Do the best with what you have, especially when you’re away from home.

What is your idea of food hell? Small portions, when someone cooks something really tasty and it’s gone so quickly.

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