Road to Rio : Niklas Arrhenius (Sweden)

Niklas Arrhenius (10 September 1982 in Provo, Utah) is an Olympic discus thrower competing for Sweden.

Zylstra: What do you need to work on this off-season?
Niklas: I need to get healed-up from some lingering injuries, fine tune some technical cues and work on overall fitness and speed. I can also work on the mental side of competing.

Zylstra: How are you going to get better?
Niklas: My coach and I have created a plan for my current situation and how to accomplish these things I need to work on. We’ve done some things differently than other years when it comes to balancing life.

Zylstra: What's your current height and weight?
Niklas: 6’4’’ (192cm) and between 270-274lbs (122.5-125kg)

Zylstra: What weight do you want to be at when your competitive season begins?
Niklas: Won’t be getting taller at 33 years old [laughter], but I would like to get down to 260 lbs (118kg) before the season begins.

Zylstra: What weight do you want to be at when you are at your peak (Olympics?)?
Niklas: Somewhere in the 116-118kg range.

Zylstra: What do you need to work on, improve?
Niklas: All aspects of the technique can get better. I am currently working on all areas of the throw, from the start to finish. Somethings I changed last year and I hope with another year’s worth of practice I will be more efficient and consistent with those changes. I have been throwing for quite some time now and it’s not always easy to change/improve your throw, but I feel like for the habits I have, whether good or bad, so far this off-season I’ve felt like my form is improving to where it was when I was at my lifetime best (2007, 2009, 2011 and the latter part of 2013).

I can always work on having better balance in my life. I am married and have three kids they are my top priority in l ife. I’ve worked hard on figuring out how to practice and compete with the schedule I have being a family man and the throws coach at Brigham Young University. This year I’ve worked on compacting my throwing practices to a 25-30 minute window. This has been done by making sure I have enough implements to decrease retrieval time and keeping time between throws to a minimum. It might not be optimal, but my family and work come first and I practice when I can.
My overall fitness/body weight can get better. I feel like when it comes to discus throwing, I am at my best when my body weight is between 116-120 kg. I haven’t been in that range since early 2012. So I really want to work on my nutrition and fitness. I believe doing this together with maintaining or increasing my power with give me the ability if my technique is improved to get the speed of release I need to throw far.

I can improve in the mental aspect of throwing/competing. Our track team here at BYU work with a mental coach named Craig Manning and his “the fearless mind” system. I need to be more consistent in applying his principlesboth in practice and in meets. My coach and I will also be working on some “model training” where we model practice after the bigger meet’s scenario.

Zylstra: What are you doing differently to prepare for the Olympic Games?
Niklas: In Sweden there isn’t a “trials” like there is in the States. I obviously need to throw the standard first and if I can do that, then it’s up to the Swedish Olympic Committee to decide if I compete in the Olympics or not. My first goal of the year will be to qualify and compete well at the Europeans earlier in the season. This is the best thing I can do to prepare me for the games. So the 63m qualifying standard for the Euro’s and doing well there in the Netherlands is what I’m working toward now.

Zylstra: In your country, what do you need to accomplish to be named to the Olympic Team?
Niklas: Throw the standard (65m) and show that I am capable of finishing top-8.

Zylstra: Where will you be living December-April?
Niklas: I’ll be living at home in Provo, Utah.

Zylstra: Will you be going to a warm weather training camp?
Niklas: No need to in Utah. Other than the later part of December until the beginning of March (the usual indoor track season time frame) we have sufficient to excellent weather here the remaining part of the year

Zylstra: Who are you training with?
Niklas: When I can, my brother Leif and I throw and lift together. Tim Nedow also came here for a training camp in October because of our good weather. Occasionally some other throwers from Global Throwing group.

Zylstra: Is throwing part of your off-season training?
Niklas: Yes, along with the regular 2kg discus, I have thrown 1.75 and 2.25kg discus’. I also have thrown a 2.5kg Discus Tool.

Zylstra: What weight lifting exercises will you do?
Niklas: Power clean and snatches, front and back box squats, incline dumbbell and barbell bench press and lots of auxiliary exercises for rehab/prehab/balance.

Zylstra: Who is your coach?
Niklas: Vésteinn Hafsteinsson

Zylstra: How often are you with your coach?
Niklas: In person, not too often until the summer. I try to skype my practices when it fit’s both our schedules and if not, I try to film some throws and send them to him. During the summer I usually spend 7-11 weeks with him.

Zylstra: Are you going to try anything new this off-season?
Niklas: I already listed most of what things I’m trying to do differently this off-season. But I also have been using the Push armband for a year and a half now. Last year it was mostly figuring it out and studying/learning how to use it for the goals I have. This off-season I use it with all of my lifting workouts. I use it mostly for motivation to move the bar fast and to give me an idea of how heavy I can lift on that given day (autoregulation). I feel like this has been a fun addition to my workouts and helping me maintain/improve my power.

Zylstra: When do you plan to begin competing?
Niklas: Because of Europeans being before the Olympics, I’m going to have to throw far earlier this year thanbothers so that I can qualify for Euro’s and work toward doing well there. I figure that by May I might open up my season.

Zylstra: Who do you see as the medal favorites in you event?
Niklas: Anyone that’s made a major championship final in the last few years probably has a chance at a medal. Those that have medaled probably have a great chance because they have shown they can perform under pressure. There are always up and coming throwers that seem to be fearless and also can battle for a medal.

Zylstra: What will you do to relax?
Niklas: Spend time with my wife and kids. Go up into the local mountains and be in nature.

Zylstra: Vacation(s) planned?
Niklas: Not really. I would like to fit in a vacation with the family even if it’s only a day or two.