Nick Percy In The Form Of His Life

Nick Percy in the form of his life

Katy Barden speaks to a discus thrower who enjoyed a brilliant performance on America’s field of dreams recently

A beautiful photo captures the sunset over Millican Field in Ramona, Oklahoma. As the last rays of sun fade over the horizon, there is a striking image of a lone throws circle, its bright concrete contrasting against the vast, dark space that surrounds it. The emptiness is captivating.

Nick Percy

By day, the venue casts a different spell. Its magic attracts the world’s best throwers. “What is it [about the place]?” Nick Percy asked fellow thrower Alex Rose in 2023, intrigued by what he’d heard. “It has great conditions”, the Samoan replied, “but it’s just such an amazing atmosphere with everyone wanting everyone else to throw far”.

Nick Percy in the form of his life

Ramona is Throw Town (USA), a real-life field of dreams. “That’s why I wanted to go out there,” explains Scottish record-holder Percy, who threw a lifetime best and European and Olympic qualifying standard of 67.73m at the venue in April.

“It’s a love project [from Don Millican and coach Caleb Seal]. These guys purchased a plot of land in a rural area, built a lovely facility, then said: ‘Come and throw’.”

Glasgow-born, Isle of Wight-based Percy, a five-time British champion and 2016 NCAA discus champion, made his Great Britain and Northern Ireland senior debut at the London 2017 World Championships. In 2022, he represented GB & NI at the World and European Championships and finished fifth for Scotland at the Commonwealth Games. That same year he threw 65m, his best at the time, before a back injury caused him to miss the majority of the winter.

His form and fitness started to return through summer 2023 – he managed a season’s best of 64.73m – but not soon enough to make it to the World Championships in Budapest. That experience, and the prospect of making his first Olympics, convinced him to go “all in” for 2024.

His 67.73m, the second-furthest throw of all time by a British athlete, came on his first day of competition at the Oklahoma Throws Series. Alongside the joy, however, came a typically mixed reception ranging from shock and surprise to downright indignation. Perhaps the context and a greater awareness of Percy’s consistent efforts would have helped placate those naysayers. In fact, throughout a month of competition, the 29-year-old threw multiple times over 63.80m and delivered four throws in excess of his previous best.

“Everything sounds windier on the audio,” he laughs, responding to those who suggest his performance was purely down to favourable conditions.

Percy’s fourth-best ever performance (65.37m) came in a memorable discus competition one week later as Lithuania’s Mykolas Alekna threw an incredible 74.35m to break the world record at the Oklahoma Throws Series World Invitational.

Nick Percy in the form of his life

Nick Percy (Mark Shearman)

“I threw 65.37m and came ninth,” he says, with almost disbelief. “It’s nuts to think that would make the final in a World Champs and in any normal competition you’d be battling for a medal. I think we had around 200 people in attendance that day. We were so happy for everyone to throw far and that’s the magic of that field, it’s such a positive environment.

“I drove Mykolas back to the airport the next day,” he adds. “I went from one of my best throws ever to being a taxi driver to the world record-holder. How humbling is that? There’s a lot you can learn from those guys, but sometimes you learn more not by asking questions, but by observing, by watching what they do, how they prepare, how they act, how they can handle these things.”

All of that is made possible by the lure of Millican Field. If you build it, the best will come.

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