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Hammer thrower Craig Murch targets 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham

All Areas > Sport > Athletics

Author: Roger Jackson, Posted: Tuesday, 21st December 2021, 08:00

Craig Murch is targeting the 2022 Commonwealth Games Craig Murch is targeting the 2022 Commonwealth Games

“He can throw a hammer farther than you and I go on holiday.”

That’s Gloucester Athletic Club stalwart Richard Blackwell talking about Craig Murch, the up-and-coming thrower who is making a big name for himself in the sport.

So much so that he is targeting next year’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham and if, as expected, he gets selected for the England team, he will be going there to do a lot more than just make up the numbers.

“I’ll be very disappointed if I don’t reach the final and I’ll be very disappointed not to medal,” he told The Local Answer, “I want to go there and try to win it.”

And if hard work and dedication have anything to do it then 28-year-old Murch is surely a live contender because he happily admits that the hammer is the big thing in his life.

Murch comes from a decent athletics family and was encouraged in the sport all the way when he was younger.

“I used to be a javelin thrower,” he explained. “But then I injured my elbow so I had a go at the hammer.”

And it’s fair to say he has never looked back. He is originally from Rugby but moved to this part of the world about five years ago after leaving Loughborough University with a 1st in computer science.

Since then he has come under the expert eye of Lorraine Shaw, the 2002 Commonwealth Games gold medal hammer winner who has been a big part of Gloucester AC over the years.

“Lorraine was one of the big reasons I moved down here,” explained Murch, who is an IT project manager in Cheltenham.

“I wouldn’t have moved somewhere where there wasn’t any high quality coaching and vice-versa, I wouldn’t have taken any job; I wanted to do both.

“My old coach at Loughborough, John Pearson, put me in touch with Lorraine, he said she was keen to help. We met in a coffee shop in Gloucester and we gelled; we’ve been working together ever since, it’s a good relationship.

“My whole life revolves around the hammer – eating, training, recovery. You do have to make sacrifices, especially on the social side.”

Shaw knows all about competing at the highest level, of course, having rubbed shoulders with the very best at multiple Olympic Games and world championships back in the 90s and noughties.

As well as her Commonwealth gold in Manchester, the now 53-year-old also won a silver at the Games in 1998 and a bronze in 2006, and it is that experience that was part of the appeal for Murch, who was British champion in 2020 and has a best throw of 73.64 metres.

“It’s not just the advanced technical side,” explained Murch, “she’s been there and done it, she can empathise with me as an athlete.”

And while Murch is clearly very comfortable working with Shaw, he is equally comfortable at Gloucester AC, his second claim club.

“Birchfield Harriers are my first claim but I really like it at Gloucester, it’s a great club with great people, they’ve supported me all the way,” he said.  

And while the club have supported him, Murch has given plenty back too.

“I coach at the club twice a week,” he said. “I coach the kids but I’ll coach anyone who wants to get better.

“Coaching is something I’d like to do more of when I’m no longer a full-time athlete, I’d love to get into elite coaching.”

That’s for the future, of course; for now Murch’s focus is very much on the 2022 Birmingham Games.

“I’m coming into my prime,” he said. “Most hammer throwers are in their prime in their late 20s and early 30s.

“I’ve just lost 10 kilos so I’m down to 97-98 kilos. I eat lots of protein, lots of carbs, lots of nutrients – I have six or seven fruit and veg a day, I’m up near 3,000 calories a day.

“You have to be strong for the hammer but if you’re too strong you’ll be too slow across the circle. It’s all about power and technique, you have to find the balance between strength and speed.”

Anyone who has seen the hammer will know what a physically demanding sport it is – a thrower makes four full, quick turns before launching the weight – and it goes without saying that it requires an awful lot of hard work and effort to make it to the top.

“I do 11 training sessions a week,” said Murch, who lives in Churchdown. “I work full time so I have to fit them around my job. I’m generally up at 5.45 in the morning to fit in a session and then I’ll do another session most nights.”

Those workouts include yoga, broga – that’s yoga for men – swimming, four throwing sessions at Gloucester AC and three gym sessions at Nuffield Health Centre in Gloucester.

And you have to say that all the hard work is certainly paying off because he is ranked the sixth best hammer thrower in the Commonwealth for 2021 and the third best in England. And being in the top three in England is very important because three hammer throwers will be selected for the English team in Birmingham.

“It’s the driver for me,” Murch said. “It’s very rare for an elite athlete to appear at a major games in front of a home crowd. It’s only just over an hour up the road to Birmingham, it’s something special.”

And Murch, who will target the Olympic Games in Paris after Birmingham, clearly has the potential to be something really special in the sport.

“I’m known in the hammer arena as ‘The committed one’, he said. “As far as I know I’m the only one who has a full-time job as well being a full-time athlete.” 

Other Images

Craig Murch is ranked in the top three hammer throwers in England

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