Back in 2004 a three-year-old Connor Bell was toddling around his parents West Auckland home as Dame Valerie Adams announced her presence to the Olympic world in Athens.
Fast forward 17-years and the pair have both been named in the New Zealand athletics squad for the Tokyo Olympic Games.
“It’s crazy to think that I’ll be standing alongside Dame Valerie at an Olympic Games,” said the 19-year-old discus thrower.
“It goes to show the calibre of New Zealand athletes and especially throwers. For Dame Valerie to be attending her fifth Olympic Games is an amazing achievement and that’s in the realm of what I’d like to achieve in my career, so I really look up to her.”
Bell grew up in Auckland and found a love of discus in his early teens. He went on to achieve international success at a young age, winning gold at both the Commonwealth Youth Games in 2017 and Youth Olympic Games a year later.
Still only a teenager he’s one of the most exciting young athletics prospects in the country and is starting to fulfil his potential, smashing the 23-year-old New Zealand resident record with a massive personal best of 64.29m in the Hawke’s Bay in January.
Bell says being selected for the Olympic Games is a dream come true.
“It’s beautiful to be named, I am absolutely stoked. A few years ago there’s no way I would’ve picked this, it’s been an incredible journey and to be named in a team of such high calibre athletes feels fantastic.”
He plans to soak up the atmosphere at the Games, enjoying the experience while using every learning experience possible at his first senior international competition.
“In terms of performance it’s my first Olympic Games and I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself but I’d like to do really well.
“My goal is to throw the discus 75m in my career and you don’t get there by mucking about so I’ll go in there with an open mind, ready to learn and give it my best.”Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games