Battle between Walsh and Gill this weekend for shot up NZ Title

04/03/2015 by Steve Knowles

The much anticipated battle between Tom Walsh and Jacko Gill for New Zealand shot put supremacy will take place on Sunday afternoon at Newtown Park Wellington.

It will be the first time they have competed together since the Glasgow Commonwealth Games where Walsh gained the silver medal with 21.19m after throwing 21.24m in the qualifying rounds and Gill finished 11th with 18.05m. In recent weeks Gill has won the Auckland title with 20.58m and Walsh was out to 20.24m at the Auckland Track Challenge.

Walsh, bronze medallist at the world indoor championships will be going for his sixth shot put title in a row and Gill, twice world junior champion and world youth champion, will be keen to secure his first senior title.

Photo - Sportzhub

Olympic Games 1500m silver medallist Nick Willis on recent form looks set to take his third national 1500m title having won in 2006 and 2008. Competition will be intense with the 2012 champion Julian Matthews chasing hard over the final lap. Willis comes into the race fresh from setting two New Zealand indoor mile records in the States and a resident 5000m record at the Auckland Track Challenge last week.

Another notable performance should come from Philip Jensen who defying his age of 47 will be out to extend his hammer throw titles to 21. Jensen has won the most titles in the same event and has the most consecutive titles at 17 and the longest span of 26 years between his first title in 1988 and last year. Matthew Bloxham (18) has stepped up to the senior hammer with the best performance in the country this season of 59.51m at the Auckland championships while in the Wellington championships Jensen threw 56.54m. Bloxham will also contest the senior shot put, and the junior men’s shot, discus and hammer throws.

Nikki Hamblin and Angie Petty will renew their rivalry in the 800m and 1500m. Petty is the defending champion in both, and going for her fourth year in a row in the 800m. Hamblin the Delhi Commonwealth Games silver medallist in both events has won the 800m title in 2010 and 2011 and the 1500m three times from 2010. Hamblin also won both in 2009 but as she was not a New Zealand citizen at that time the titles went to Erin Montgomery and Fiona Crombie.
Eliza McCartney three times junior champion and three time youth champion in the pole vault will be keen to claim her first senior title. She will also be defending her junior pole vault crown.

The women’s discus should be a close affair, Siositina Hakeai will be going for her four consecutive title but Te Rina Keenan who has beaten Hakeai this season may have a slight edge.

In the sprints with Joseph Millar’s withdrawal it has left it open for James Mortimer, seven times national sprint hurdles champion to win his first 100m flat title. Cameron French has entered and if he decides to add the 100m to the 400m hurdles, which he is defending should go close along with Alex Jordan and Kodi Harman. Mortimer, Alex Jordan the 2011 champion and Michael Goldie should feature in the 200m while the 400m will be a battle to the end between Andrew Whyte the 2013 champion, Tama Toki, Daniel Dyet and Daniel O’Shea.

Rochelle Coster will be after a long held desire to finally win the national women’s 100m title. On her current form she could make it a double in the 100m hurdles as well. Making it hard for Coster in both events will be her arch rival this season Kelsey Berryman. Joshua Hawkins should win the senior 110m hurdles title.

Louise Jones will be defending her 200m and 400m titles. Camille Buscomb should win the women’s 5000m while in the men’s 5000m Zane Robertson should hold his form from last week where he finished second to Nick Willis at the Auckland Track Challenge to win his first New Zealand title. Jake Robertson has also entered the 5000m making for an interesting race with the defending champion Malcolm Hicks, Aaron Pulford and Callan Moody.

William Crayford should make it title number eight in the high jump, Marshall Hall number six in the discus throw, Stuart Fraquhar number 15 in the javelin throw, Daniel Balchin three in a row in the 3000m steeplechase, Zoe Ballantyne up against Mackenzie Keenan in her quest for three in a row in the 400m hurdles, Nicholas Southgate three in the pole vault, Matthew Wyatt in the long jump and Phillip Wyatt in the triple jump both going for three years in a row. Matthew will have the unique opportunity of competing against the world record holder in the long jump Mike Powell, who established the record of 8.95m in Tokyo in 1991. Powell (51) is aiming for the world masters M50 long jump record of 6.84m.

Tori Peeters who last year set a New Zealand national and resident javelin throw record of 54.45m at Newtown Park returns for her third title. Nicole Bradley, up against the junior Lauren Bruce, in the hammer throw is after her third title in a row. It will be the fourth title for Liz Lamb in the high jump if she wins while Rosa Flanagan should successfully defend her 3000m steeplechase title. If Mariah Ririnui can repeat her form of recent weeks she should make it three years in a row in the long jump, but heptathletes Portia Bing and Veronica Torr will make it tough for her. Australian based Nneka Okpala should claim her fifth consecutive triple jump title. Okpala set a New Zealand national record of 13.65m in Canberra last month.

In the walks Mike Parker will be out to extend his record of 35 years in the longest span between titles won in any event. Courtney Ruske should win the women’s 3000m track and 20km road titles. Interest in the junior men’s walks will be the two way battle between Jared Free and Jonathon Lord over 3000m and 10km.

Jacob Matson should take out the junior men’s 100m, Bailey Stewart to 200m and 400m while Geordie Beamish and Jordan Rackham will make for an interesting finish in the 1500m. Max Attwell will have the 400m hurdles to himself and will be up against James Sandilands in the 110m hurdles. In the junior women Zoe Hobbs is down for the 100m, 200m and long jump while in the youth women Phoebe Edwards will contest the 100m, 100m hurdles, high and long jumps. Georgia Hulls should dominate the youth sprints and Izzy Hegan and Ari Graham are entered in the youth 800m.

New Zealand’s next up and coming shot putter Ryan Ballantyne of Waikato Bay of Plenty will feature in the junior and youth men’s shot put. Ballantyne has broken Courtney Ireland’s Waikato under 18 record twice this year and at the Waikato secondary schools zone meeting at Porritt Stadium on Tuesday he extended the 5kg shot put record to 19.02m. This is a qualifying performance for the world youth championships in Columbia in July, exceeding the standard of 18.60m.

Incidentally the oldest New Zealand resident field event record was set 50 years ago on Friday by Dave Norris who set a triple jump record of 15.94m in Palmerston North on 6 March 1965.

Friday’s competition starts at 10am, Saturday at 9.30am and Sunday with the walks at 8am and at the track 9.30am.

Murray McKinnon

Athletics New Zealand