Experience and Young Talent Named to Commonwealth Games Athletics Team



Fifteen New Zealand athletes have been named in the Athletics team for the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, announced today at the AUT Millennium track by the New Zealand Olympic Committee.
The team is a strong mix of experience and young talent with two athletes, 1500m specialist Nick Willis and shot putter Valerie Adams preparing for their fifth and fourth Commonwealth Games respectively, while 11 of the athletes will be attending their first Commonwealth Games.
Two times Olympic gold medallist Adams, is aiming to re-write her own piece of history, targeting her fourth consecutive Commonwealth Games  shot put gold medal and her fifth medal overall.
Willis, like Adams, has medalled at all his previous Commonwealth Games appearances. At 34, he shows no signs of slowing down and in 2016 won bronze at the Rio Olympics after setting a New Zealand record for 1500m the previous year.  He also finished third at the 2016 Portland World Indoor Championships 1500m, and made the final of the 2017 World Championships off a very short build-up.
World shot put champion Tom Walsh will front for his second Commonwealth effort, having won silver four years ago in Glasgow. Walsh has shown incredible consistency in his competitions, only once falling below second place in his 14 outings in 2017. His world title has armed him with the confidence to upgrade his Commonwealth silver from four years ago.
Eliza McCartney who at 21, is already an Olympic medallist, is another of the stars in the team. In a 2017 interrupted by injury, she managed to increase her New Zealand and Oceania record to 4.82m, ranking her fourth in the world for the year. She still managed to place ninth in the 2017 London World Championships while limited by Achilles tendon issues.
Athletes representing New Zealand for the first time at a major international event include 400m hurdler Cameron French, pole vaulter Olivia McTaggart, 800m runner Brad Mathas, and pole vaulter Nick Southgate.
Seven of the fifteen athletes announced have won either Olympic, Commonwealth, World Championship or World University medals.

Ten of the team are heading for their first Commonwealth Games. 

NZOC CEO Kereyn Smith extended her congratulations to the athletes.
“This is an extremely strong and exciting team and one which we have very high hopes for on the Gold Coast,” said Kereyn.
“There’s a fantastic mixture of athletes and disciplines within this group, ranging from the likes of seasoned campaigners Dame Valerie Adams and Nick Willis to Games debutants such as Cameron French and Brad Mathas. We’re also naming three pole vaulters which is a fantastic representation of the growth of this sport within New Zealand.”
“New Zealand has won a staggering 127 athletics medals at the Commonwealth Games and I look forward to these athletes adding to our proud athletics legacy on the Gold Coast.”
Athletics New Zealand Chief Executive Hamish Grey also added his congratulations to the athletes named in the team.

“We’re pleased to congratulate our athletes on selection for the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. We’re proud of their achievements, which are recognition of their commitment and drive for excellence,” said Grey.
“Our team is an exciting mix of multi-medal winning Olympic and World Championship athletes and new emerging talent selected for their first Games, covering a broad spread of event disciplines from shot put to marathon.”
“We wish them all the very best on the Gold Coast,” Grey  added.
The athletics team members named today join Para athlete Holly Robinson (javelin) who was selected for the Gold Coast team in late 2017.
Marshall Hall and Julia Ratcliffe are selected subject to each meeting performance standards during identified Athletics NZ competitions.
Dame Valerie Adams’ selection is also conditional in that she must compete at upcoming NZ National Championships.
Further athletics team selections are possible.
Athletics has a very rich Commonwealth Games history with the sport being the major attraction at every Games since John Savidan and Stan Lay won gold in 1930 at the first Games in Hamilton, Canada.
New Zealand has won 35 gold and a total of 127 medals in athletics at the Commonwealth Games. The best Games in terms of medals won were Auckland 1950 (20 medals), Perth 1962 (11) and Kingston 1966 (10).
Valerie Young (nee Sloper) is the most prolific with five gold and a total of seven medals from 1958 to 1974, while Les Mills tops the men with five medals including one gold from 1958 to 1970.
The naming of the athletics team today brings the New Zealand Team to 90.
Gold Coast 2018 Athletics Team
Valerie Adams (conditional)       shot put                             Pakuranga Athletic Club
Alana Barber                              20km race walk                 Race Walking Auckland
Camille Buscomb                      10,000m                             Hamilton City Hawks Athletics
Cameron French                       400m hurdles                      Hamilton City Hawks Athletics
Marshall Hall (conditional)         discus                                 Invercargill Athletic Club
Ben Langton Burnell                  javelin                                 Palmerson North Athletic & Harrier Club
Eliza McCartney                         pole vault                           North Harbour Bays Athletics
Olivia McTaggart                        pole vault                           North Harbour Bays Athletics
Brad Mathas                               800m                                 Christchurch Old Boys
Angie Petty                                 800m                                 University of Canterbury
Julia Ratcliffe (conditional)          hammer                            Hamilton City Hawks Athletics
Quentin Rew                               20km race walk                 Wellington Harrier Athletic Club
Nick Southgate                            pole vault                          North Harbour Bays Athletics
Tom Walsh                                   shot put                            South Canterbury Athletic Club
Nick Willis                                     1500m                             Lower Hutt Athletic Club
Camille Buscomb and Nick Willis also have permission to start in the 5,000m.