Throwholics is honored to provide you fans and students of the event an autobiographical article written by world class thrower and gentleman Julian Wruck.
I threw a little bit when I was younger in a club called “little athletics” where kids are put into their age groups and do three or four random track & field events on the weekends. I loved track & field as soon as I started it and although not very naturally talented at anything, I was decent at shot put, high jump and discus.
I played lots of sports when I was younger and was alright at a few of them but not so good at others. I had an advantage in some just because I was big, but even the size didn’t always help because there were usually still kids that were stronger than me. I changed schools when I was about eight years old and signed up for shot put, where I only threw during the season which was maybe 5-6 weeks a year. It wasn’t until I got to high school that I started to throw discus. Nobody else signed up for the throws; and seeing as I had thrown shot put before, I thought I’d sign up, and although I didn’t really know how to throw a discus, I knew what a discus was (which is more than most kids at this age) and I had at least thrown it before, so I signed up for discus too.
I enjoyed the track & field seasons as they passed but I didn’t train for the throws at all, most of the year round I would play basketball or train for rowing, which I started at the beginning of high school when I was about twelve. I threw about 30m (98′ 5″) in the discus (1kg) when I was thirteen , and about 13m (42′ 7″) in the shot (3kg), 47m (154′ 2″) when I was 14 (1kg) and 14m (45′ 11″) in the shot (4kg) about 51m (167′ 3″) when I was 15 (1kg) and 15m (49′ 2″) in the shot (4kg). All this time I mostly only threw during my high-school season, which was about 7-8 weeks long.
At the beginning of grade 11 (15 years old) I broke my tibia quite badly playing basketball from too much jumping on a growing skeleton, this is really my only major injury to date. I had wanted to begin focusing on just one sport before this injury and had bought some weights to try to get stronger, because a lot of other kids in the grade that played sports were stronger than me. I was going to begin specifying, and focus on perhaps two sports; basketball and throwing. Once I broke my leg though, I thought that the only real way to continue playing sport would be to pursue just one, because my body couldn’t handle the stress from three sports. Instead of rowing, basketball and throwing all at the same time, I decided to become a shot put and discus specialist.
I lived in an apartment building with my family, and while I was on crotches recovering from the injury I used to hop down to the underground parking lot where I kept my weights and began lifting. I was quite weak to begin with but by the time I could walk again I was able to bench press almost 100kg (220lbs), which I was very proud of.
I had turned 16 and as soon as I got the okay from my doctor I began throwing, and used to get pointers from a fellow athlete’s dad, which helped quite a bit. It was my first year with the 1.5kg discus and 5kg shot put and I had heard that the transition from 1kg to 1.5kg was the most difficult. I was throwing with a non-reverse for the discus and a glide for the shot, and managed to get over 50m (164′) in the discus a few times with standing throws (which was all I could do for a while during my recovery), and hit a 5m (16′ 4″) PB at the very end of the season with a full throw: 58m (190′ 3″). I also threw the shot put almost 18m (59′) with a standing throw. I kept training all through the year, now on my own, and trained about half and half with the 1.75kg and 1.5kg, hoping to make the World Junior Championships in 2008. At the beginning of the year I hurt my elbow from throwing standing throws in the shot put because I was overextending. From this point I just focused on discus.
The Australian under 20 championships went well, I came 2nd with a World Junior qualifier 54m (177′ 1″) but Athletics Australia sent 1st and 3rd place, I think because it was their last chance to go to World Juniors and I was young enough to make the next one. I was quite disappointed and decided to take about 6 months off, which is a long time for a 16 year old kid. I was recommended another coach and begun training with him towards the end of 2008. Instead of the World Junior Championships, the kids that didn’t quite make the team were sent to the Commonwealth Youth Games in India which for me was with the 1.75kg discus. I trained well leading into this competition and ended up throwing a big PB there, 60.88m (199′ 8″). The whole year I was getting stronger and improving my technique. At the end of high school, just after this competition, I could bench press about 135kg (297lbs) and squat about 175kg (385lbs), and I had just begun to throw the 2kg, where I could hit low 50m’s (164′) quite consistently.
It was around this time that I was told about the possibilities of American University sports, and had decided to take this route, as it sounded like a great opportunity and I probably wouldn’t have ended up doing university if I had stayed in Australia. At the beginning of my first year out of high school (2009) I left my coach because throwing by myself felt more natural and better for progress. I started throwing the 2kg a bit more regularly and improved to about 54m (177′ 1″) right before I went to America.
I began at Texas Tech University in July of 2009, where I was able to meet and interact with many great throwing minds. Jason Young was the weight-room coach there at the time, and being in the midst of his throwing career, and me being an eager young thrower, we occasionally trained together and talked about throwing regularly. I would talk to him and ask him questions as much as I could and to this day he has taught me more about throwing and the human body than anyone else. After picking his brain for a couple of years I had my mind opened to many new training ideas and technical concepts that I have used to improve ever since. I owe a fair bit of my success to this great man.
Since then I have transferred to UCLA where I enjoy a cultural climate much more similar to Australia where I grew up, and some of the best training weather in the world. Mike Maynard coaches here and is a great guy, very easy to get along with and very flexible with regards to training. He allows me to write my own programs, make my own technical decisions, and he is very helpful to talk to about anything regarding training really. He gives me good, experienced advice with regards to program planning and throwing in general, having years of successful coaching and experience to draw from.
Most importantly though, throughout this entire time my family and friends have supported me greatly. Without the help of these great people, particularly my parents, I would never have been able to have much success at all.
Throughout my entire throwing career I have more or less coached myself, but essentially I treat everyone as a coach. I have learnt huge amounts from throwers, throws coaches, throws videos, experimenting in training, and reading training information on the internet along the way. Whenever I go to a competition I talk to as many people from the throwing community as I can, sharing ideas and learning new ways to do things. There are many ways to throw far and restricting yourself to a select few ideas, for most throwers, will limit your throwing capacity. Learning has allowed me to improve consistently over a considerable period of time and stay mostly injury-free. I think that developing an understanding for your event is the best way to get better and that is what I am doing day in and day out with discus as I enjoy this amazing sport.