When the going gets tough, this Kiwi hammer thrower gets going

Nicole Bradley

We are passionate about helping people realise their full potential. That’s why we are sponsoring five athletes who are part of the Performance Potential Squad (PPS), a programme that prepares young athletes for future success. In this interview we talk to hammer throwing star Nicole Bradley about the small steps she takes to achieve big goals.


1. At Robert Walters, we always look out for people with the potential to excel. Who discovered your potential to be a top hammer thrower?

It started with one person and, along the way, there have been others too. I had already done discus and shotput when, in my early teens, a coach in Dunedin suggested I try hammer throwing. Another coach picked me up later in my teens and when things weren’t going so well for me  she was the one who said, “No Nicole, you can’t give up, you love this too much”. So I kept going.

I then had a back injury in 2016 and couldn’t compete for a year. Afterwards, I'd set my sights lower and told my new coach I didn’t expect to achieve anything great. He said, “Excuse me! Look at you! You could make the World Champs or the Olympic Games or the Commonwealth Games if you want to!” He told me not to sell myself short. Having someone who believes in me really helped me become a high-performance athlete.

2. You are now part of Athletics NZ’s PPS programme, of which Robert Walters is a sponsor. The PPS involves a lot of hard work. How do you stay motivated?

It makes my day being able to throw hammer. Everyone has their happy place and that’s mine. I work full-time so hammer throwing is the time that’s mine. Also, I’m quite an anxious person so training and competing is an escape for me.

3. The PPS encourages athletes to aim high. What is your goal?

The dream is making the Olympic podium in 2020. My coach and I have broken that down to focus on the small things that will help me reach the big target. That includes things like strength, technique, and nutrition. I’m also focused on new recovery methods, making sure I get enough sleep and managing work-life balance. There are multiple avenues. What it all adds up to is that I’ve got to train smart and then the goal will come true.

The hard times are when you really find out if the team around you is good. When you’re down and out, it’s those people who help you get back up.

4. That sounds like a very comprehensive plan with lots of moving parts. What happens if the unexpected happens?

Even when something goes wrong, you can optimise that. For example, recently I had food poisoning and that obviously affected my plan. But my coach said “We really need to make use of this time”. So we worked on my technique but at a lower intensity that I could handle. My mental skills coach said, “Don’t worry it’s just a block in the road”. My physio worked with me because I picked up a niggle along the way, and my nutritionist helped me when I got back from food poisoning to prepare me for the next couple of months. 

5. When you look back on your career one day, what would make you feel like your hammer throwing career had been a success?

Even if I don’t have a medal on the mantelpiece in my house, I’d like to be able to say that I gave it everything I had and I didn’t give up. And that I loved and enjoyed my sport along the way.


Robert Walters helps NZ athletes achieve their potential, find out more about our sponsorship.

Our athletes all have their own story to tell, read their stories here.