James Nipperess (white shirt) is a confirmed starter for Australia’s team at the Gold Coast. (Sydney University AC)
James Nipperess is turning up to training with racehorse determination, just a few weeks away from the Commonwealth Games.
The 27-year-old will represent Australia in the 3,000-metre steeplechase on Day 10 of the Games on the Gold Coast next month.
In an event that derives its name from horse racing, each runner must clear 28 ordinary barriers and seven water jumps.
Nipperess has worn the green and gold previously at World Cross Country and in Glasgow at the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
“Glasgow didn’t go to plan and I finished ninth,” he said.
“I’ve been waiting four years to give myself another opportunity to try and redeem myself.”
Nipperess emerged as a talented junior athlete in Sydney under coach Ken Green before relocating to Canberra in 2016 to train with Dick Telford.
James Nipperess put it all on the line to finish first at the Commonwealth Games selection trials. (Supplied: Ewa Facioni)
Dr Telford said consistency had been the key ingredient for Nipperess.
“I don’t expect him to flog himself at training now,” he said.
“He’s got to be able to recover between each of his training sessions.
“It’s just a case of putting the icing on the cake now.”
So what does it take?
Training involves a gruelling mix of endurance sessions, speed training on the track and fartlek training.
“Fartlek is Swedish for ‘speed play’, so when training is at the National Arboretum, for example, we’ve got these enormous hills to climb and we do that as part of long or short repetitions,” Nipperess said.
“I do some heavy weights at the gym too, heavy for a skinny distance runner anyway.
“I’ve been trying to hone my hurdling technique with a series of plyometric jumping drills.”
Nipperess relocated from Sydney to Canberra where he trains under distance running specialist Dick Telford. (Supplied: Bronte McHenry)
The training group effect
As part of Dr Telford’s Canberra squad, Nipperess trains alongside Commonwealth Games marathon debutant Chris Hamer and 1,500 metres runner Jordon Gusman.
“It has really suited James to train with faster middle distance runners as well as some faster long distance runners,” Dr Telford said.
“His event sits nicely in between.
“You just can’t afford to be timid, you’ve got to get out there and have a really good crack at it.”
In his spare time, Nipperess works as a physiotherapist, studies his MBA at the University of Canberra and sits on the board of Athletics ACT.
“I do have a very understanding partner who is a tremendously talented athlete herself,” he said.
Nipperess’s partner Emily Brichacek finished fourth in the 5,000 metres at the Australian championships last month, narrowly missing a spot on the Games team.