THE hammer may not be the most glamourous of the track and field disciplines to some but for Southend AC’s Billy Praim-Singh nothing beats it.
The 14-year-old was this week awarded a prestigious national badge for finishing in the top 10 of the under-15 UK rankings for the hammer last season.
This year he has moved up to the under-17 age group, throwing with a heavier 5kg hammer and against rivals a year older than him, but he is well placed again to finish in the nation’s top 10.
“People think hammer is not the most exciting event but I love it,” said the Eastwood School pupil. “It’s the most technical event, it’s extremely fun and all the competitors have a great spirit.”
Praim-Singh currently sits in seventh in the rankings with his personal best throw of 56.22m but unbelievably is not even the number-one ranked hammer thrower in the county.
Chelmsford AC’s Alex Reynolds has that honour with his best of 58.96m which puts him fourth in the country while Canvey’s Levi Causton is the third-ranked Essex thrower and eighth in the county with his best of 56.08m.
There are not many other events where Essex has such strength in depth and Praim-Singh says the competition between the three of them is a key factor to their surge up the rankings.
“It’s a rivalry between us, but it’s also friendship,” he said. “That’s one of the great things about hammer throwing. If one of us does well then we all cheer but we all want to win, too.”
It’s possible that all three of them will be selected for Essex to compete in the English Schools Championships next month.
And Praim-Singh is eager to build on last year’s debut performance at the championships where he finished seventh.
“I’m hoping to go to English Schools,” he said. “And if I do get there then top eight is the aim. Last year I got really nervous. It was my first time and just going there is an achievement. But I’ll be better prepared this time round if I’m selected.”
It’s all a long way from the day Praim-Singh turned up at Southend AC’s Garon Park home for the first time.
“I started as a shot-putter,” said Praim-Singh. “My teacher at Eastwood, Scott McLean, said ‘you are quite good at this, have you ever thought about joining Southend AC?’ “So I went down to Southend but saw some boys throwing the hammer and thought ‘I might as well have a go’ and I just loved it.”
The one problem for Praim-Singh in the early days was the lack of a hammer-throwing coach at Southend.
But the club, well aware of his potential, pulled out the stops to make him stay and found him the perfect coach.
“At first I was just standing throwing and reaching about 24m,” he said. “That was just done from picking up tips from (team-mate) Sam Grant.
“The club said ‘we know we don’t have much to offer you, but if you stay here we can find you a coach’ and that’s what they did. They found Rob Earle for me and he has been great in helping me get to where I am.”