Jay Stone has set a goal that requires a focus more “narrow” than anything he has attempted before.
The desired end result of that intense single-mindedness is to stand on the podium as the 400 metres gold medallist at the World Masters Athletics Championships in Málaga, Spain, next September.
It would the Armidale-based athlete’s first outdoor world championship gold medal and his crowning glory. His training program to achieve this is 400 days. Thursday was day 116.
Stone, the joint winner of the top gong at this week’s New England Sports Star Awards in Armidale, chose this demanding approach after a hamstring injury at an event in Fiji affected his performance at the 2016 World Masters Athletics Championships in Perth, where he finished third in the 400m.
He said: “Usually I have so many different competitions … [But] every other event this year is just training. All the focus is on Spain, the world title. It’s a really narrow focus, and that’s the first time I’ve done that.”
Stone – whose stellar 2017 results include two gold medals at the World Masters Athletics Championships Indoor in Daegu for the 200m and 400m (35-39 age group) – described his preparation for Málaga as a “juggling act”. “But I’ve had a lot of experience doing that,” he added.
“I have an incredibly understanding wife [Nina] and family. They support everything I do … It takes a lot of time and effort to try and be the best in the world at something.”
Stone’s other 2017 results include gold at the World Masters Games in Auckland for the 4x100m relay and 4x400m relay (30-34 age group).
Someone else who knows what it takes to summit a sport is Dennis Carson, a world championship archery bronze medallist and the joint winner with Stone of the Senior Sports Star of the Year Award.
The 65-year-old, an ex-Australian No.1 for target shooting, mirrors Stone’s dedication. Even after so long at the sport’s vanguard, he still shoots every day.
This year the high point of that enduring passion was three gold medals and a silver medal at the World Masters Games in Auckland.
He said: “I just like shooting, so I keep going. I’ve got a granddaughter [Ella Rose, 14] now who’s shooting. I coach her and that’s probably the next thing – to take her to the junior nationals in April.”