It has been a memorable year for Cork teenager Nicola Tuthill.
The 19-year-old has managed to elevate herself to second on the Irish All-Time list in the Hammer Throw, represent her country at senior international level for the first time and last August finish eighth at the World U20 Championships in Cali, Colombia.
Not a bad eleven months.
Then factor into the equation that she spent a considerable amount of time before that out injured, recovering from a dislocated and fractured elbow she sustained while competing at the European Throwing Cup in Portugal.
It has taken years of hard graft for the Biological, Biomedical and Biomolecular Science student at UCD to get to where she is now.
In truth like most developing athletes she has been helped significantly by those closest to her – her parents Norman and Colette.
While studying for her Junior Cert, Tuthill was forced to trek across Bandon to her club’s track while her siblings sat in the car waiting for her to complete her session’s doing their own homework.
The considerable time that took up gradually began to take its toll on all involved, so Norman came up with a genius idea of building a hammer cage at home on their family farm.
“It made more sense,” says Tuthill.
“I’m based in Cork for the summer so I’m training there every day.”
The at-home facility has played its part in Tuthill’s most recent success – making her senior international debut and improving her own Irish U23 record at the European Team Championships in Poland, where she threw a massive 67.85m.
Coached by Killian Barry, Roland Korom, and Kevin Warner, Tuthill now has bigger goals on her mind, the first of which is to become a 70m thrower.
Nicola Tuthill striving for more
What are the areas that she needs to work on to get there?
“I think in general just strength and technique, there’s always improvements to be made there, speed as well, so hopefully with another few years I can add extra strength and technique together I might be able to push it out over 70m,” she says.
That would get her ever closer to the 73.21m national record set by Kilkenny woman Eileen O’Keefe in 2007, a role model Tuthill says that she would “love” to meet.
“It was more when I started getting into the hammer myself that I started reading articles about her, I wouldn’t have heard about her when I was younger.”
O’Keefe represented Ireland at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and in years to come Tuthill will look to follow in her footsteps and become Ireland’s next Olympian in an event which the country has a rich tradition in.
While she feels a place at next summer’s European Championships in Rome is realistic, she is fully aware that reaching the pinnacle of the sport in thirteen months’ time is going to prove challenging.
“Every athlete’s dream is the Olympics.
“I’d want to be throwing 73m a fair bit to be out at that standard (qualifying),” she adds.
“You never know but 2028 might be a more realistic goal.”