British athletics legend Geoff Capes' grandsons on track to carry on the good name
When Donovan Capes (14) won the junior boys' shot put title at the English Schools Track and Field Championships in Birmingham this summer, there is a strong case to say that he was "playing catch-up".
Just four weeks before the Bourne Academy student achieved something that neither his dad and coach Lewis Capes, nor his legendary grandfather Geoff Capes ever did, Donovan's younger brother Lawson became the only ten-year-old in the country to throw the shot put over ten metres.
Lewis said: "We went down to London for an open meeting where normally under-11s don't throw the shot put or discus.
"But we asked if Lawson could compete with his brother and the organisers were really nice and accommodating.
"They brought out three brand new shots of the right weight for Lawson's age, the only under-11 at the event.
"A lot of competitors were there and it took an hour for each round to be completed.
"But that didn't phase Lawson who pulled out a big throw of 10.55m which everybody kind of clapped and one person actually laughed.
"During the season, other under-11s had been throwing the shot an average of 6m and no one had ever heard of anyone throwing 10m before."
Four weeks later, at Birmingham's Alexander Stadium where the athletics events during the 2022 Commonwealth Games are due to be staged, Donovan stepped into the shot put circle determined to show that his national number one ranking was fully justified.
Shortly after winning his English Schools Athletics Association title, Donovan said: "I went there intending to win it, but I knew it was going to be close as I was only top of the national under-15 rankings by 10cms.
"When I entered the stadium, I was nervous but also focused as I wanted to hit a big throw with my first attempt to put pressure on my rivals.
"In the end, I won the competition with my opening throw of 14.94m, backing that up with a great series of throws that no one else could beat.
“When I knew I’d won, I felt elated and relieved as I’d had the pressure of being UK number one and standing on the winner’s rostrum with my medal was a great reward for all the hard work I’d put in."
Lewis said: "When people ask me how Donovan has done this season, I say: 'He's done everything'.
"But the season started out badly because he broke his finger in January while playing rugby for Spalding under-15s in a cup game where he scored a hat-trick of tries to get his team through the tie.
"Donovan missed the indoor season, but he kept working really hard in the gym which is where all of his frustrations were taken out.
"But the injury delayed Donovan's season so that he actually peaked at the right time and he managed to do even better at the England Athletics Under-15/Under 17 Championships in Bedford, seven weeks after the English Schools championships, where he threw 15.46m.
"He had a great battle with the Welsh lad Dafydd Pawlett and at one stage in the competition, Donovan went into the shot put circle down the field."
Samantha Capes, Donovan's mum, said: "Despite the broken finger, we weren't worried about Donovan because we knew things were going to work after all of the hard work he'd put in.
"But what he has learned this year is that when you've got six throws in a competition, you've not lost until the last throw is down.
"There's been a massive change in maturity for Donovan to learn that each throw is like the first one and that each time he goes into the circle, he knows he can still win and that's what happened at Bedford."
Lawson, in his final year at Bourne Abbey Primary Academy, and Donovan are the youngest of five brothers, a fact that has forced them to grow up fast underneath the watchful eyes of their parents.
Lewis said: "Donovan has come a long way in a short space of time because he didn't start athletics until he was ten, compared to Lawson who started when he was eight.
"All of our boys do really well academically because we instil rules in them and we've had to build a structure for them to follow.
"Donovan and Lawson get Friday night off and so they have to fit in their athletics, rugby and education into the week.
"Both boys have a programme that they get on with independently and they both know what to do."
An important part of the boys' training programme takes place at their father and grandfather's Lincolnshire Throws Academy, now based at Bourne Leisure Centre after moving from The Holbeach Hub earlier this year.
Geoff said: "Lawson and Donovan's prime coach is their dad because he sees them on a daily basis.
"When they come to the academy, I see the finer points in their techniques.
"Donovan started the year under a cloud because of the broken finger and we didn't know whether he could this season or not.
"His training was important at the time, but he missed it and so we didn't know how he was going to develop over what was left of the season.
"But he still achieved considerable success, winning everything in his age group.
"Hopefully, Donovan will stay on a correct path and doesn't get injured.
"As for Lawson, he's the most technically efficient thrower in the country for his age group because of the discipline he has shown in the academy.
"But as a grandparent, while you have to be proud of them, I'm also more grounded as a person and so I don't put Donovan and Lawson on a pedestal."
Lawson and Donovan are both fully immersed in their winter training programmes, the building blocks of success for every track and field athlete.
Samantha said: "Sometimes because of their name, people expect Lawson and Donovan to be really good.
"But these people don't know that the boys put so much hard work and training into being the best."
More by this authorWinston Brown