Athletics Round up
Athletics Round up - NZ Champs - Jake Robertson dominant 5000m , Tom Walsh and Jacko Gill shot put showdown, Nick Willis unleashed his star quality 1500m...
Les Mills Athletics New Zealand Track and Field Championships, Newtown Park – 6-8 March 2015
Day One 6 March
Jake Robertson gave a dominant front-running display to win the national championships 5000m, his first New Zealand track title. Representing Waikato BoP, the 25 year old Kenyan-based athlete lead from the start of the race in very blustery conditions. Encouraging other runners to follow his pace, he ran the 5000m in a modest 14:03.71, well outside his best of 13:15 set in Europe last year.
The time was not important in the difficult conditions for the former Hamilton athlete and his smile and celebration at the finish hinted at his pleasure at winning the title. Malcolm Hicks from Auckland, the defending champion finished second in 14:17.77, while Robertson’s teammate and two-times New Zealand 10,000 champion Aaron Pulford came home third in14:27.21.
Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Zane Robertson was a late withdrawal from the race after injuring a calf on a training run the day before.
"It was really quite tough. I get a lot of those conditions in the Rift Valley (in Kenya) because the blows up from the valley, but it was hard out there. I almost got blown into the infield once," said Robertson.
He will open his season proper at the Payton Jordan Invitational in Stanford, California, in early May where he predicted he would break Dick Quax's 37-year-old New Zealand 10,000m record in his bid to make it to the Beijing world championships and on to Rio Olympics.
"A lot of people will be looking at Stanford for the early (World Championship) qualification in the 10,000m, that's why I'm heading there, and hopefully I'll get the New Zealand record there too and the qualifier. Then possibly two weeks later in LA I'll get the 5000m standard as well," Roberston said.
Quax's New Zealand record time of 27:41.95 has stood since it was set in London in 1977, nearly four seconds faster than Robertson's PB for the distance of 27:45.41.
Kodi Harman won the coveted senior men’s 100m title in a windy 10.47. The Tauranga athlete, representing Waikato BoP, cleared out early in the race and won going away from the field with James Mortimer (Auckland) 10.62 and Alex Jordan (Wellington) 10.65 filling the minor placings.
The 20 year old Harman had previously won junior and youth titles and was thrilled to bag his first senior title coming back from an injury in December.
“I was lucky to get a really good start I just held my position and relaxed and it all fell into place which was really lucky,” he said.
Kelsey Berryman won the women’s 100m after the disqualification of co-favourite Rochelle Coster for a false start. Like the men’s 100m winner, it was the first senior title for the Canterbury 23 year old, having previously won six junior titles for sprinting and hurdling. In one of the few legal wind reading of the day, the winning time of 11.88 was just 0.10 outside Berryman’s best.
Cameron French (Waikato BoP), in one of the most impressive performances of the day, defended his 400m hurdles title, recording 50.28, a classy performance in the wind and wet of Newtown Park.
"Rio is the ultimate goal, but if I can make the world champs that'd be amazing. I'm only 0.54s off the qualifying mark... now I'm just looking forward to getting some competition,” said French.
"I'm basically doing these races by myself, so I'm looking forward to getting that competition overseas and seeing what I can do," he added.
Mackenzie Keenan (Canterbury) beat defending champion Zoe Ballantyne in the women’s hurdles with a time of 61.53.
Camille Buscomb won the women’s 5000m in 16:20.02 defending the title she won on the same track 12 months earlier and running some 12 seconds faster in the process.
Hamish Kerr was a surprise winner in the men’s high jump, clearing a big personal best of 2.13 to defeat seven times champion Billy Crayford on 2.09. Earlier in the season, the Auckland 18 year old won the New Zealand Secondary Schools title and had previously cleared 2.08. Kerr also won the later junior title with an even higher jump of 2.14m, becoming the ninth New Zealander to join the ‘seven foot’ club.
Portia Bing in the first event of a four at these championships won the long jump title with a jump of 6.23, beating defending champion Mariah Ririnui on 6.12.
“This is the first long jump competition where I have been over six metres several times, and everything is starting to fall into place with long jump,” said Bing.
Marshall Hall (Southland) easily retained his discus title making it title number six, throwing a season best 57.43 in tricky, windy and wet conditions, while Alex Parkinson had a personal best of 52.92m in second place.
“It wasn’t ideal conditions, the circle was a bit slippery, but the wind in Wellington is always good so that carried the discus a long way and if only it was dry, but I’m really happy, sixth national title with a good distance too, a season’s best and another World Uni qualifier.
“I’m off to the Australian champs at the end of the month and then on to the USA to catch some more of those big winds so I’ll be there for most of April and then off to the world university games in Korea which will be great,” said Hall.
Parkinson was one of the few to excel in the conditions.
“I’m so happy, just to make the most of that wind and I got a nice one out, caught it lovely.”
“I’ve concentrated on speed work and weight training and it just came on the right day,” said Parkinson.
Nicole Bradley (Auckland) came out on top in a close women’s hammer competition, throwing 52.48mto win from young Canterbury thrower Lauren Bruce by just over a metre and another metre back to Montaya Wharehinga.
Bradley was pleased to secure her third straight title.
“I’m very happy I sprained my ankle on Monday so I didn’t even think I would make it. My season hasn’t been that great so for my technique to hold up in the rain, is something that is very positive for me and my coach to know that I can do it under horrible and horrendous conditions. The rain just soaked me and all I had to do was keep my hammer glove clean and dry but getting that first one out really did consolidate that I was in for a good throw. My shoes were soaking wet, not exactly ideal conditions for PB, but Montaya still managed to get a PB just proving that it can be done,” said Bradley.
Auckland discus divas Siositina Hakeai and Te Rina Keenan had a ding dong battle for the senior women's title with the former throwing 57.27m to edge her rival's 56.74m heave.
“It was a pretty tough competition and I just won,” said Hakeai.
Courtney Ruske 13:45.72 and Mike Parker 14:43.95 were the winners in the 3000m walk championships.
Ruske said it was the worst conditions that she has competed in.
“Not as bad as that, we had the long distance champs at Devonport and that was gusty wind as well. It is Wellington so. It is pretty hard to keep your balance and that oh well we just had to do our best in the conditions,” she said.
Day Two 7 March
In atrocious conditions, Philip Jensen was defeated in the final round by 18 year old Matthew Bloxham, denying Jensen of his 21st national hammer throw title.
The lead changed numerous times during the event with 47 year old Jensen of Wellington edging his way to the lead with a throw of 61.23m in the fifth round, just shy of his winning distance at the 2014 championships. But Bloxham was not done, unleashing a personal best 63.50m on his final throw.
Jensen who won his first title eight years before Bloxham was born, was very happy with his distance and announced his retirement after the competition. With the amazing run at an end, Jensen felt pleased to be handing over his mantle to the new brigade.
“I basically wanted to push these guys to win the title with a decent distance and today they did. Matt threw 63 and a half metres which is outstanding especially for a young guy. So I’ve handed the mantle on to somebody else now. Once someone beat me that’s it, it is there turn they need to take over, it’s the young brigade turn and as my kids say it’s RIP, ‘retire in peace’.”
Jensen has called it quits after a remarkable career of 20 New Zealand hammer titles extending back to the first in 1988.
“it would have to be something remarkable to drag me back next year.
Jensen’s 61.23m throw for second is still a top throw for someone his age of 47 and coming with just a couple of months training.
The world masters M45 record is 79.42m set by 46 year old Aleksandr Dryhol of Ukraine in 2012.
Bloxham was elated at winning the title.
“I knew I was a little bit behind but I thought to myself I just got to go for it with the last throw, I had nothing to lose last round was in second place nothing more I can go for than gold, yeah happy to finally get a good one out and a PB also, yes very happy. I had an awesome crowd support, I’ve never had a clap like that before.
“I’m off to the Sydney GP for shot and discus and then the Aussie champs for the senior hammer.”
Angie Petty won her fourth New Zealand 800m title with a brave front-running performance. Running in difficult conditions with gale force winds the Canterbury 23 year-old recorded a quality time of 2:03.90, holding out a tenacious Nikki Hamblin in 2:04.56 with Katherine Marshall running 2:06.18 in third place.
“I just started off quite cruisy because of the conditions I didn’t want to go and smash it into the wind and I took the lead for the first bit and then I didn’t want to go too early as that was the mistake I made at Porritt going really hard into the wind so I learnt from that and I just saved for a strong finish. I went through the first 400 in 63 which is quite slow compared to what I normally would go through in so I felt quite comfortable even at the 200 to go mark and even though I accelerated there I still felt I quite a bit left in the tank so I felt like I could give it everything and apparently I came home in 29 so for me that’s quite a good finish,” said Petty.
Petty will be competing at Sydney and Melbourne, but not the Australian Championships.
The men's 800m was also a quality race with three times New Zealand champion Brad Mathas (Canterbury) taking the race to US Olympian Andrew Wheating. Mathas made a bold move with 120 metres to run, going past the tall American and holding him off almost to the line with Wheating just edging the Kiwi in the last few metres 1:49.82 to 1:49.89. Ben Anderson took the championship silver in 1.51.35 ahead of Tim Cornish in 1:52.28.
Tama Toki from Auckland won his first senior New Zealand title in the 400m in 47.47 ahead of Daniel Dyet 47.69 and Daniel O'Shea 47.99.
“I had to make sure that the pace was right as it was a really stacked field. I’m really happy. Over the last 25 metres I was saying to myself not this time (referring to last year faulting just before the finish with exhaustion after leading and finishing up second).”
Louise Jones retained her women's 400m title in 55.28 from Sarah Pearce 56.31 and Brooke Cull 56.38.
“That wind definitely put out a fight today it seemed to be right round from the 200 mark. I only started back at the 400’s about four weeks ago. Chris Williams wanted to get my speed up because if I want to get close to 51’s 52’s I’ve got to get that speed up, so we focussed on that and then we brought the 400’s in. It is now training for the Aussie champs,” said Jones.
Rosa Flanagan retained her 3000m steeplechase title in 9:54.18. The race was won by Magdalene Massai from Kenya in 9:48.28.
“It was good to have someone in the race makes it a lot more enjoyable.
“I’m pretty happy with the time in these conditions. Melbourne is where I hopefully will try and qualify for the world champs,” said Flanagan.
Stuart Farquhar won his 15th javelin title with a throw of 78.17m, less than four metres ahead of young training partner Ben Langton-Burnell who was just outside his personal best.
“Number 15 title, it’s good to get it, I’m feeling in pretty good shape. I felt pretty good today, just my calves sort of cramp up a bit. Overall I’m pretty happy the body otherwise is good. It was pretty tricky in these windy conditions, because the javs are just flying all over the place, and it is really hard to stabilise them in the air so hitting 78 is actually reasonably good is this sort of tough conditions,” said Farquhar.
It is off to Sydney next week and then Farquhar is taking five weeks off competition before he starts the Asian circuit.
At this point in the interview a large gust of wind pushed over the indicator board falling heavily and damaging a number a javelins lying alongside.
“Oh no they’ve just crushed my javelins,” said Farquhar.
Keely O'Hagan (Wellington) and Liz Lamb (Auckland) both cleared 1.84 in the women's high jump, but O'Hagan claimed the victory on the countback from the three times previous champion. The winning height was a credit to both athletes in appalling conditions and a personal best for the 20 year old Wellingtonian.
Te Rina Keenan took out the women's shot put competition in the absence of superstar Valerie Adams with a modest 15.03 well ahead of the competition. Keenan only threw in the opening round after renewing strained fingers from the Capital Classic meeting.
Portia Bing (Auckland) provided somewhat of an upset in the women's 100 hurdles, beating the fancied Rochelle Coster and Kelsey Berryman to take her second title of the championships, adding to her long jump victory the previous day. Bing's winning time was 13.74.
The men's 110m hurdles title went to Auckland's Joshua Hawkins in 14.41, well clear of Jack Henry and Stephen Isaac. Hawkins finished second at the 2011 World Youth championships but after several season's affected by injury, the 21 year old now has his first senior New Zealand title under his belt.
Matthew Wyatt was the clear favourite in the men's long jump, but was upstaged by Manawatu's Jordan Peters. Distances were affected by very challenging conditions with heavy rain falling throughout the competition and Wyatt could only get out to 6.95m, 0.22 behind Peters.
The expected world masters record attempt by current world record holder Mike Powell did not eventuate, after Powell warmed up but was unable to jump due to back and leg problems.
"The conditions today were the worst I've ever seen at a track meet. My back tightened up and I had to pull out of the competition. It would have taken a Herculean effort to break the record today. It's all good, I'll go home and get my body ready to jump in a few months. God's timing, not mine! It ain't over!" said Powell.
Day Three 8 March
Tom Walsh and Jacko Gill had an intriguing battle in the men’s shot put with all the action happening in the first three rounds of the competition.
Gill opened promisingly with a throw of 20.05 and the Commonwealth silver medallist responded with a season’s best 20.73, which would prove his best throw of the afternoon.
The 20 year old Aucklander improved to 20.08 and 20.33 in subsequent rounds but could not reach the Cantabrian’s first round effort.
Neither athlete was able to extend their distance in their final three attempts, but a notable milestone had been reached, the first time that two New Zealand athletes had surpassed the 20 metres barrier in the same competition.
In perfect condition in total contrast to the gale force winds and rain on the first two days, Walsh at just 23 had won his sixth national title.
Inspired by the star performances 21 year old Auckland Marcus Hayward threw a personal best of 16.74 to take the bronze.
Both Walsh and Gill, who threw a recent 20.58, have now surpassed the 20.45 Athletics New Zealand A standard and IAAF qualifying mark for August’s World Championships in Beijing.
Walsh said that winning was the goal.
“I came here to win, and that’s the main thing. Distances are getting better, the first throw was really good, waited for it and lifted it which I wasn’t doing last week where I was rushing it. So it’s going the right way but it is still a long way from where I want to be.
“Title number six, we’re here to win and the title is just another thing on top of that.
“Next up is Melbourne GP in two weeks and then that’s me done and then I’ll be off to America after that,” he said.
Gill was happy with his performance.
“It was pretty good. Everything was pretty okay, it wasn’t outstanding and I was pretty disappointed with that last throw I didn’t quite hit that one, I didn’t have the best training session on Friday, but I was happy to get that result out. It was good to get out to 20 metres in the first throw,” he said.
Gill’s next competition will be the Australian championships.
Nick Willis unleashed his star quality to deliver a storming finish in the men’s 1500m in 3:50.90, taking less than 52 seconds to run the last lap off a leisurely first 800m, beating fellow Glasgow Commonwealth Games 1500m finalist Julian Matthews 3:52.86, with big improver Tim Cornish 3:53.57 in third place, matching the bronze he took in the 800m the day before.
Willis was after a fast finish.
“That’s what I was looking at doing I just wanted to see what I could run for that last 400. I would have like to have run a last 100m a little bit stronger, but is a good way to cap off my down under season and now I’ll get back to the drawing board.
“My goal was just the time for the last 400 and my wife clocked me at a 51.8 some people said 52, but I’ll take the faster one.
“There’s a lot to take away from this season especially seeing how it’s gone after altitude training that’s really the big question are we going to go back to altitude before the world champs or not so there are a lot of things we’ve got to weigh up, the pluses and the minuses about that and that’s what we will decide over the next three or four weeks,” said Willis
His next race is on 13 June at the adidas Grand Prix in New York City.
Matthews was in awe of Willis’ finish.
“He’s just a superstar really, but I was happy with my own race it was a bit messy early on and that’s what happens when it is slow. I’m happy with how I finished ran out a pretty good 400 there so I’m happy with my form at the moment and hopefully I can convert it into a good time in Sydney next week.
“Then some altitude training at Flagstaff in the States, there’s a group of us going, Nikki Hamblin, Hamish Carson, Aaron Pulford and Tim Cornish, and then try and hit some good races over there. I’m going to target Stanford and Oxy (Eagle Rock) over there, Oxy is where I ran my second qualifier for the Commonwealth Games last year so hopefully it goes quick this year and I’m in good shape for that.”
In a superb women’s 1500 race, Nikki Hamblin also delivered a decisive sprint to beat Waikato’s Camille Buscomb who had provided all the early pace in the race. The Cambridge based former Commonwealth Games medallist recorded 4:12.02, just half a second outside the best ever time at the championships.
Hamblin was pleased to come back from her disappointment in being beaten in the 800m.
“I knew I had to make it hard and Camille did that for me. And she ran a PB and that’s an awesome way to run a PB, she’s a real gutsy runner,” she said.
Hamblin was more excited for Tim Cornish who finished third in the 1500m.
“Steve (Willis) coaches us both and he’s done an awesome job of getting us both ready for this meet, I’m supper stoked for Tim he just ran awesome, I’m probably more excited for him than I was for me, but it’s great to see that.”
Hamblin is trying to get into the Sydney 800m for next weekend.
Buscomb, winner of the 5000m championship two days earlier was rewarded with a personal best 4:13.80, while 19 year old Rosa Flangan who took out the 3000m steeplechase title on Saturday took third place in a new personal best of 4:14.19.
“It was a good, I was glad that Camille went out at a good pace and I followed. I was aiming for the record at the Auckland Track Challenge and just missed out, so going out today was the aim. It finished off the weekend nicely,” said Flanagan.
James Mortimer, at 32 years of age has collected nine senior hurdling titles since 2003, but as the oldest in the men’s 200m field by six years, used all of his experience to win his first national sprints title in 21.47.
At the other end of the spectrum, heptathlete Portia Bing at 21, added the women’s 200m to the 100m hurdles and long jump titles over the first two days of the championships. All three were very good performances indicating a very bright future in the sport for the all-rounder.
Daniel Balchin made it three consecutive titles in the 3000m steeplechase, winning in 9:07.56, a personal best by 15 seconds, while 17 year old Harry Ewing also ran a 15 second pb to finish second.
Eliza McCartney as expected, took out the women’s pole vault, clearing a modest 3.70 but was surprisingly beaten in the junior contest which ran concurrently because of weather postponements the previous day. Nick Southgate retained his men’s title, clearing 4.95.
Courtney Ruske and Graeme Jones were winners in the 20km walk events.
Otago’s Tori Peters repeated her 2014 women’s javelin win, just over a metre short of the distance she threw at last year’s champs.
Nneka Okpala, based in Melbourne, made it five titles in five years in the women’s triple jump, while Aucklander Phillip Wyatt took his third men’s title, ahead of his brother Matthew.
Other highlights, Kelsey Forman of Wellington, just two days off turning 17, broke the New Zealand under 17 2000m steeplechase record with her winning time of 6:52.72 in the youth 2000m steeplechase. The previous record was 6:54.86 set by Sarah McSweeney in 2006.
Zoe Hobbs grabbed the junior women’s treble of titles in the 100m, 200m and long jump while Matthew Bloxham took out three junior men’s titles, shot put, discus and hammer throws to go with his senior hammer gold.
Phoebe Edwards of Wellington matched Bloxham’s haul with four individual titles, the junior women’s and youth high jumps and the youth long jump and 100m hurdles.
A talented group of juniors won two titles each. Georgia Hulls the youth women’s 100m and 200m. Lauren Bruce the junior women’s discus and hammer throws. Maddison Wesche junior and youth women shot put. Hamish Gill junior 100m and long jump. Bailey Stewart junior 200m and 400m. Jonathon Lord junior 3000m and 10km walks. Felix McDonald youth 110m hurdles and long jump. Nicholas Smith youth 100m and 200m. Angus White youth 1500m and 3000m.
In the men’s Para-Athletics events Liam Malone (100m & 200m), Ethan Rangi (400m), Richard Nelson-Parker ( long jump), Julian Bethell (shot put & discus) and Phil Hansford (seated discus & javelin) all took championship titles.
Holly Robinson set a NZ record in the Para-Athletics javelin at 37.88 and other titles went to Anna Grimaldi (100m, 400m and long jump). Libby Leikis (200m), Ashley Exeter ( shot & discus).
Auckland City Athletics Meeting, Mt Smart Stadium – 4 March 2015
Isaac Tatoa 60m 7.20 (-1.5), 100m 11.28 (+1.2). Niven Longapoa 100m 11.73 (+1.2) and 400m 54.65. Andrew Stewart 3000m 9:12.43. Ivanja Po’uhila 3kg SP 14.06m. Samson Aruwa 5kg SP 14.97m and 1.75kg DT 53.57m. Tua Herman 1.5kg DT 45.32m.
Northeast Conference Indoors, Landover 22 February: Katrina Anderson mile 5:05.72 (5).
Sun Belt Indoors, Birmingham 23 February: Craig Lautenslager 3000m 8:28.80 (5).
Conference Indoors, Birmingham 26 February: Shauna Pali 3000m 9:47.37 (3r2), 5000m 17:07.73 (5). Mike Lowe 3000m 8:42.79 (3r1), 5000m 14:50.53 (8).
Mountain West Indoors, Albuquerque 27 February: Kerry White 800m 2:11.70 (3h1). Emma Sutherland HJ 1.75m (4). 28 February: Kerry White 800m 2:12.57 (5). Jeff Lautenslager mile 4:25.87 (11).
MPSF Indoors, Seattle 27 February: Greer Alsop TJ 11.86m (10).
Southeastern Conference Indoors Lexington 28 February: Rebekah Greene mile 4:51.43 (8).
Big East New Indoors York 28 February: Laura Nagel 3000m 9:06.16 (4). Julian Oakley mile 4:18.46 (1h1). 1 March: Julian Oakley mile 4:11.13 (2).
MAC Indoors Mt Pleasant 28 February: Amy Shaw 3000m 10:00.66 (13).
Conoco Rodeo 10km Run, Houston, 28 February: Mary Davies 34:53 (1).
Vitality Bath Half Marathon, 1 March: Paul Martelletti 1:05:27 (1), after earlier winning the Wokingham Half on 8 February in 1:04:18.
Victorian Championships, Melbourne 1 March: Nneka Okpala TJ 13.62m (+0.9) (1). Sarah McSweeney 3000m steeplechase 10:46.11 (2).
NSW Championships, Sydney 1 March: Warren Button HT 55.85m (2).
YMCA Half Marathon, Peterborough, 22 February: Jesse Gibbs 1:11:39 (1).
ROAD RACES AROUND THE COUNTRY
Round-the-Bays 8.4km, 8 March: For the fourth year in a row Jono Jackson won in 25:09. Olivia Burne was the womenn’s winner in 29:54.
Copthorne Off-road Half Marathon Whakarewarewa Forest, 8 March:
Ben Ruthe 1:13:26, Michael Voss 1:17:52, Adrian Lysaght 1:19:10.
Jess Ruthe 1:20:39, Rowan Torckler 1:24:17, Kirsten Milne 1:29:27.
Bayleys Mountain to Surf Marathon – Mt Taranaki to Waitara, 7 March:
Samuel Corbett 2:41:11, Stephen Lett 2:45:33, Ciaran Faherty 2:48:22.
Louise Mcdonald 3:01:55, Katrin Gottschalk 3:10:32, Simone Cullingworth 3:12:43.
Walk; Harry Terwiel 4:17:47. Sherryn Hardy 4:51:31.
Half Marathon: James Irvine 1:14:33, Robert Rawles 1:15:12, Ryan Ballanger 1:18:10. Kiterangi Cameron 1:37:50.
Walk; Eric Kemsley 2:02:21. Sherryn Wilson 2:28:56.