Series21 Jul 2021

Kelsey-Lee Barber: why I throw


Kelsey-Lee Barber in action at the Olympic Games (© Getty Images)

Kelsey-Lee Barber (AUS)

World javelin champion, 2018 Commonwealth silver medallist and 2014 Commonwealth bronze medallist



Going back to my very first memory of watching the javelin at a state level meet, there was something immediately captivating about the event. I was aged 14 or 15 at the time and I liked the fact that a javelin thrower is not confined to a circle. There was an energy about using a runway, followed by the snap of the javelin and the way the javelin floated in the air. 

I initially dabbled in the event, but it was from the age of 17 when I fell in love with javelin. I felt the event fitted me and I fitted the event. When I delivered the javelin, I felt an element of ease. I knew the event was going to work for me. In other athletics events, I had to work hard to achieve average results but the javelin felt more natural.

Over time, my passion for the event has evolved. I love the combination of power, strength, speed and skill that is necessary to be able to throw the javelin a long way.  

When all is going well, each throw feels effortless. The timing comes together and you feel the spear snap off the fingers, the energy flows through the shaft and the javelin flies. Of course, not every day is a good day. On the bad days the event is really tough. Your timing may be off by a fraction of a second and you have to work hard to piece it altogether. But that is what I appreciate about javelin, it is such a humbling event. It is a technical event which is not just based on raw power but a certain finesse and beauty – like all the throws.

My manager explains it perfectly by describing javelin as like a “relaxed explosion”. In some ways that moment of release is a bit like a car crash, but it is important to remain relaxed. It is like being in a peaceful state in a moment of chaos.

I like challenging the body to do something that I’ve never done before. I love that feeling in a competition of standing at the end of the runway, of feeling free. There is something really rewarding about every day working hard and being asked to bring my very best out in competition.

Steve Landells for World Athletics