Chisholm taking his best shot

Josh Chisholm, 22, hopes to inspire others while continuing to break new ground in shot put....
Josh Chisholm, 22, hopes to inspire others while continuing to break new ground in shot put. PHOTO: SIMON HENDERSON
Josh Chisholm is fighting a fierce competitor — himself.

As the New Zealand record holder for the men’s F40 shot put category, each time he reaches a new personal best he is breaking his own record.

The Athletics Otago squad member is a relative newcomer to shot put, first taking up the sport in 2019.

He was at the Caledonian Ground watching a friend compete in sprints when coach Raylene Bates approached him.

"This lady came up to me and said ‘have you ever tried shot put’?"

Bates invited him to a weekend session to try out the sport.

When he threw the shot, it wasn’t far, but Bates told him he had just set a New Zealand record.

"So it wasn’t that I broke a New Zealand record, it was that I set one."

"Because before then, in all of New Zealand history, there hasn't been like a New Zealand short stature shot putter."

"So that's how I got into it. It was really just by chance and going to the track at a specific time."

Since then he has broken his own record about half a dozen times, and last year he competed in the New Zealand Track and Field Championships in Hastings, coming away with bronze in the Men’s Shot Put Para Open.

"So that meant I was versing people with different disabilities, but managing to still place at a high level."

Chisholm said competing in shot put had opened up his life to different opportunities.

He was reminded of this when he was recently asked to give a speech at an end-of-year school prizegiving about adversity and overcoming obstacles.

"You know, we've got to take all of these opportunities that we are given, but also that we've got to use the strengths ... we have all got different strengths."

At times it had been a difficult journey for Chisholm to find his calling within sports.

"Growing up, I never really played much sport because I was differently abled to everyone else."

He sometimes felt sad and could feel left out during physical education.

"Whereas, like, if I did participate, they would have to go easy on me, you know, and it would feel disingenuous."

"So athletics was never really something that I enjoyed until I went to the track back in 2019."

Chisholm, who is studying to be a primary school teacher, says he hopes to be an all-round teacher, "but with an emphasis on physical activity as well, so not just stuck in a classroom all day".

He is also an "activator" for Athletics New Zealand’s Run Jump Throw events for children.

While continuing to work on reaching new goals in shot put, he also hopes to inspire others.

"I've seen actually a few young children that have dwarfism at some of these events that we go to for Run Jump Throw.

"And just seeing them see me, and they are going, ‘you're just like me’, that is pretty cool."

Coming up on his sporting calendar is competing at the New Zealand Track and Field Championships next March.

Before that he will also travel to Canberra in January to gain his international classification as a para-athlete.

"My long-term goal would obviously be to represent New Zealand at the Paralympics."