Walsh and Gill battle for shot put win
Tom Walsh and Jacko Gill had an intriguing battle in the men’s shot put on the final day of the Les Mills New Zealand Track and Field championships in Wellington.
All the action happened 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.
Shortly after, Nick Willis unleashed his star quality to deliver a storming finish in the men’s 1500m, taking less than 52 seconds to run the last lap off a leisurely first 800m, beating fellow Glasgow Commonwealth Games 1500m finalist Julian Matthews, with big improver Tim Cornish in third place, matching the bronze he took in the 800m the day before.
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 women’s 1500m. The Cambridge based former Commonwealth medallist recorded 4:12.02, just half a second outside the best ever time at the championships.
Buscomb, winner of the 5000m championship two days earlier was rewarded with a personal best, while 19 year old Rosa Flangan who took out the 3000m steeplechase title on Saturday took third place in a new under 20 national record of 4:14.19.
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.
200m: 1 James Mortimer (Akld) 21.47, 2 Alex Jordan (Wgtn) 21.62, 3 Daniel Dyet (Akld) 21.81.
1500m: 1 Nick Willis (L Hutt) 3:50.90, 2 Julian Matthews (Tas) 3:52.86, 3 Tim Cornish (Wgtn) 3:53.57.
3000m St: 1 Daniel Balchin (Cant) 9:07.56, 2 Harry Ewing (WaikBoP) 9:13.19, 3 Thomas Currie (Akld) 9:16.64.
20km Race Walk: 1 Graeme Jones (HBGis) 1:44:51, 2 Mike Parker (Akld) 1:50:46, 3 Sean Lake (Well Scot) 2:14:15.
4x400m: 1 Auckland 3:20.28, 2 Manawatu Wanganui 3:22.53, 3 Wellington 3:22.60.
Pole Vault: 1 Nick Southgate (Akld) 4.95, 2 Thomas North (Akld) 4.60, 3 Pascal Kethers (Akld) 4.60.
Triple Jump: 1 Phillip Wyatt (Akld) 15.40, 2 Matthew Wyatt (Akld) 14.99, 3 Ebuka Okpala (Akld) 14.86.
Shot Put: 1 Tom Walsh (Cant) 20.73, 2 Jacko Gill (Akld) 20.33, 3 Marcus Hayward (Akld) 16.74.
200m: 1 Portia Bing (Akld) 23.89, 2 Louise Jones (Akld) 24.34, 3 Veronica Torr (Akld) 25.06.
1500m: 1 Nikki Hamblin (Akld) 4:12.02, 2 Camille Buscomb (WaikBoP) 4:13.80, 3 Rosa Flanagan (Cant) 4:14.19.
20km Race Walk: 1 Courtney Ruske (Cant) 1:50:53, 2 Roseanne Robinson (Cant) 1:50:53, 3 Corinne Smith (Whng) 1:5 2:00.
4x400m: 1 Auckland A 3:41.63, 2 Auckland B 3:47.60, 3 Waikato Bay of Plenty 3:53.23.
Pole Vault: 1 Eliza McCartney (Akld) 3.70, 2 Katrin Pfitzner (NHB) 3.15, 3 Lauren Beckett (Cant) 2.95.
Triple Jump: 1 Nneka Okpala (Akld) 13.31, 2 Greer Alsop (Inver) 11.92, 3 Anna Thomson (Wgtn) 11.86.
Javelin: 1 Tori Peters (Otago) 53.25, 2 Stef Wrathall (Akld) 48.97, 3 Laura Overton (Sthld) 43.66.