Former Olympian leads throwing clinic

Published 12:01 am Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Former Olympic discus thrower Gabor Mate demonstrates how to hold a shot put. | andrew garner/atmore advance

Former Olympic discus thrower Gabor Mate demonstrates how to hold a shot put. | andrew garner/atmore advance

Some 20 high school athletes received an Olympic-style course on the discus throw and shot put on Jan. 26 at Escambia Academy.

The Lions Club of Atmore sponsored the throwing clinic, which had track and field athletes from EA, Escambia County High School and J.U. Blacksher learn from three-time Olympian discus thrower Gabor Mate.

Mate, who lives in Mobile and works for United Bank, competed in the 2000 games in Sydney, Australia; the 2004 games in Athens, Greece; and the 2008 games in Beijing, China. He made the finals once, finishing in 11th place. He graduated from Auburn University and retired as a professional discus thrower in 2012.

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Other than the fundamentals of discus and shot put, Mate made sure he taught the athletes about laying a proper foundation.

“I understand there are athletes who are more advanced, but I believe if we can lay the ground work of my theory and my practices, then hopefully I can contribute to their performance,” he said.

When asked what his theory is, Mate said it’s all about connecting with each person.

“I have 22 years of experience, 15 of them in international competition,” he said. “I’ve met a lot of elite throwers. I instilled coaching methods through that.

“Every child is unique, and every child proposes new challenges,” he said. “Everybody is unique in how they approach anything.”

With that approach, Mate taught the local athletes to see their arm as a rope, and the proper way to hold a shot with three fingers.

“I try to peak curiosity about the sport, and they do a fine job picking up things an reading it back to me,” he said. “That tells me they pay attention and learn.”

Mate started throwing when he was an 11 year old in his native Hungary.

He received a scholarship to throw at AU.

Mate said an even better experience were his stints in the Olympic games.

“Just being at the Olympics is an experience,” Mate said. “That feeling carries you for the rest of your life. I still feel the enthusiasm and happiness when I made the final and the sadness when I didn’t make one.

“I still recall what happen 20 years ago because it had such a profound effect on me,” he said.