HE WAS the gentle giant at the Agnes Water Little Athletes' training day held at the school last week, but former Olympian Justin Anlezark was one fierce competitor.
The big Queenslander won Commonwealth gold for Australia and competed at three Olympic Games as one of the big men of track and field, taking on the discus and shot.
But now Justin is concentrating on the little things that give hope for Australian athletics in the future. He travels around Queensland, with the help of his major sponsor Amalgamated Pest Control, advocating a healthy lifestyle and the correct technique for field events, in particular discus and shot.
“I guess I have to be a bit of a role model for the kids,” Justin said.
“And with the Olympics coming up it is a good opportunity to use that interest and get young athletes and kids in general thinking about their fitness in general and if already competing about their performance and technique.”
Justin started as a young athlete on the Darling Downs, only taking up shot and discus in Year 5. But such was his natural ability and determination that he was national age champion by Year 7.
History shows he went on to finish second in the junior world championships, win a gold medal at the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Canada and compete in three Olympics as well as win countless national titles.
Justin retired from athletics last year and has since concentrated on helping young athletes achieve their goals and children, in general, to live healthier lifestyles.
His Proactive Future program is getting the word out to kids all over the state that getting outside and eating well is the basis to a good life.
“I call it ‘digital stupidity' where kids are spending way too much time in front of computer games and TV and hopefully the program gets them to recognise the benefits – and the fun – of being involved in an active lifestyle,” Justin said.
“As part of the work I do with the Little Athletics is to help teach the teachers and coaches as well as the kids themselves about the right techniques for field events and a bit of a message about healthy eating and an active lifestyle.
“We talk a bit about eating and what you burn; action and reaction. Kids are amazed when they realise one little piece of a chocolate bar takes three laps of the oval at pace to burn off.”
And the big bloke knows a bit about burning energy.
At the peak of his career Justin would lift between 10 and 20 tonnes of steel during a weight session in the gym – that's 10,000kg to 20,000kg – with big reps – per session.
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