by DAVE CRAMPTON
Lower Hutt athlete Nathaniel Sulupo may have started throwing shot put and discus seriously
only about 18 months ago, but he is already on his way to his first world championships in Poland. The St Joseph’s Church member leaves on July 13 for the World Juniors, and has high goals
for his discus event. He is ranked in the top three for all ages in New Zealand this year.
“I’m aiming for finals, and I’ll see what I can do from then on,” he said. “They are big goals, but last year I achieved lot more than I thought I would.”
The 18-year-old is competing for Samoa, having done so at the Commonwealth Youth Games last year, where he was 7th in both shot put and discus.
He was a promising representative rugby player, but after competing at school McEvedy Shield competitions in athletics for St Patrick’s College, Wellington, he got noticed for his throwing. He went on to get a five metre personal best to win the U20 discus at the National Track and Field champs in 50.73m, and second overall, and came second in the shot put
— fourth overall.
Although throwing is his sporting focus, he is committed to his parish. “They always put me in their prayers.”
Sulupo has grown up in the Church and takes his faith seriously these days. “I didn’t really know what it was about — it’s number one now,” he said. More so than sport?
“Probably — nah; yeah, it is! You have to go to church to praise God.”
Sulupo’s coach, Shaka Sola, who has represented Samoa at all levels in throwing, said his champion thrower is a bit green.
“As far as I`m concerned he’s a toddler — but he has already exceeded a lot of the expectations.”
When Sola saw him throw at a school competition he had other ideas about Sulupo’s rugby career, and put him through his paces.
“I train a lot harder for athletics than I ever did for rugby, Sulupo said. “I get it from Shaka. He’s the man — we have a very similar personality.”
When he started throwing he had no idea what to expect, let alone if he might qualify for an international competition.
“Not in a million years,” he said. “It just shows that through God, you can do anything.”