JOHN Kelly is mulling over a number of scholarship offers from America and is likely to move Stateside in 2016.
The Finn Valley AC shot putter (pictured above with his family, courtesy of Kieran Carlin) competed in last month’s European Junior Championships in Eskilstuna, Sweden but, inhibited by a hand injury, the St Johnston man felt that he didn’t do himself justice.
He competed two years ago in Ukraine and is quick to note that it could be the best part of a decade before he reaches his true potential in the sport.
“I was happy enough with what I was throwing this year although I do believe that I could have given more,” the 19-year-old told Donegal Sport Hub.
“It was a good experience in Sweden. The injury I have has been at me most of the year – it’s basically broken, but I’ve still been able to compete. I’ll get it sorted now and get back into training again.
“I’ll be 27 or 28 before I get into my prime so there’s a lot more to come, hopefully and a lot more experience to gain.”
His name is already in lights in Irish athletics with only Sean Breathnach ahead of him in the country right now.
Back in May, he broke Eoin Leen’s 2003 Irish junior shot put record when he three a 6kg shot out to 18.61 metres at the Donegal Athletics Championships in Lifford.
Kelly, who is coached by his father John – himself a thrower of note with the Lifford AC in his day – has tumbled the records all the way up his juvenile career.
In February, he set a new Donegal record of 15.83 metres in winning the Irish Universities Indoor title.
Last May, Kelly became the first Donegal athlete to break the 15-metre barrier.
At the opening of the Ben O’Donnell Track in Lifford, Kelly marked 15.46 metres, in the process erasing Donegal and Ulster records.
It has been nothing new for Kelly who, in 2013, broke the county’s senior shot put record.
Cruit Island’s John Gallagher’s record that was set in 1943 in Scotland was broken by Kelly when he threw 14.12 metres.
Now, America has called and the Finn Valley star seems set to answer next year.
He said: “It’s in the pipeline. It’s under consideration and it’s an option that I’m hoping to pursue.
“It would be a good atmosphere with a lot less stress and pressure. It’s a different world in a way.
“It’s nice because everyone there has the same competitive attitude, which is what’s needed to get to the next level.”
Other Finn Valley athletes like Pauric McLaughlin, James Speight, Dempsey McGuigan and Sarah Collins have taken up scholarship offers in America.
Kelly’s younger brother, James, is also on the up. Last weekend, he broke John’s Celtic Games record from 2011 when he threw 17.68 metres to take gold in the under-16 shot put event in Falkirk.
John said: “Records and throws have to go some day so it’s good that they’re being kept in the family.
“Throwing is a lonely event and it’s very individual. Ireland isn’t renowned for its throwers, but it’s great to have the brother there to train alongside.”
Kelly now aims to have his injury corrected before turning the focus towards 2016’s calendar.
The former Royal and Prior pupil, who is studying computer science at Letterkenny Institiute of Technology, is dreaming of donning the green singlet on the biggest stages of all.
He said: “Next year is just about making progress and the year after I’d be targeting the European Under-23s. I’ll be hoping to make the Commonwealth Games standard. That’s optimistic, but it’s where I’m hoping to go.
“The Olympics is a dream for all athletes and I’m no different. I’ll just keep getting the ground work in and see where that takes me. I can’t just say Tokyo 2020, even though a lot of my peers are, but I am hoping to get there either in 2020 or soon after it.”Tags: