Athletics: Jacko Gill working way back to best, sights set on World Championships

Kiwi shot-putter Jacko Gill is making small, but consistent steps back towards his best, as he continues his cautious return to the sport.

The former teenage prodigy was forced to take a one-year break from competition, after being struck down by myocarditis - an inflammation of the heart, caused by a virus.

Those problems have been complicated by a torn pectoral muscle, which further limited his ability to train.

But the 24-year-old is starting to emerge from the tunnel.

Gill has three competitions under his belt in recent months and is now just 12cm shy of qualifying for October's world championships in Qatar.

"I'm definitely going in the right direction," said Gill at an athletics street meet in Christchurch.

"I felt like I could’ve thrown a lot further today, but I didn’t, so hopefully I'll do that at nationals in a couple days."

With his strength training limited by injury, Gill's regime has undergone a drastic shift in approach.

"Instead of being really strong, we're trying to gain a lot of speed, lose a bit of weight - basically, a 180 from what I was doing."

While his renowned bench-press capabilities have taken a hit, Gill now has much greater range of movement and flexibility in his pectoral - a muscle critical to his throwing power.

The Aucklander has no doubt he'll eventually work his way back to his best, but admits there are still lingering mental hurdles - and his patience has been pushed to its limit.

"I want to do great now. It has been hard, especially after having a year off with the heart problems.

"There's a little bit of the psychological effect still hits sometimes, especially with the bench [press]."

This weekend's national championships in Christchurch will provide the most comprehensive litmus test yet of his progress.

"I've just been out of the loop for so long. I'm just really targeting world champs and getting back to throwing against the big boys, then Tokyo after that."