10 Mar 2015

Walsh wins National shot put title

12:17 pm on 10 March 2015

Tom Walsh came out on top of Jacko Gill once again to claim his sixth national shot put title in Wellington.

South Canterbury's national shot put champion Tom Walsh

South Canterbury's national shot put champion Tom Walsh Photo: Photosport

Gill opened promisingly with a throw of 20.05 metres before the Commonwealth silver medallist responded with a season's best 20.73, which would prove his best throw of the afternoon.

The 28-year-old 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.

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 1500 metres, taking less than 52 seconds to run the last lap, beating fellow Glasgow finalist Julian Matthews. Big improver Tim Cornish came third place, matching the bronze he took in the 800 the day before.

In a superb women's 1500 metre race, Nikki Hamblin also delivered a decisive sprint to beat Waikato's Camille Buscomb who had provided all the early pace.

James Mortimer, at 32 years of age has collected nine senior hurdling titles since 2003, but as the oldest in the men's 200 metres 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 200 metres to the 100 metres hurdles and long jump titles she picked up over the first two days.

Daniel Balchin made it three consecutive titles in the 3000m steeplechase, winning in 9:07.56, a personal best.

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.

On Saturday, teenager Matthew Bloxham ended the domination of 20-times hammer champion Phillip Jensen.

The lead changed numerous times during the event with 47-year-old Jensen taking the lead with a throw of 61.23 metres in the fifth round.

But 18-year-old Bloxham unleashed a personal best 63.50 metres on his final throw to deny Jensen his 21st title.

Te Rina Keenan took out the women's shot put competition in the absence of Valerie Adams with a modest heave of 15.03 metres.

Angie Petty won her fourth 800 metres title with a brave front-running performance, ahead of double Commonwealth Games medallist Nikki Hamblin.

The men's 800 was also a quality race with three-time New Zealand champion Brad Mathas of Canterbury just edged by US Olympian Andrew Wheating in the last few metres, though like Rosa Flanagan, who lost the 3000 metres steeplechase final to Kenyan star Magdalene Massai, Mathas retained his title.

Stuart Farquhar won his 15th javelin title with a throw of 78.17 metres.

Tama Toki from Auckland won his first senior national title in the 400 metres in 47.47 seconds, while Louise Jones retained her women's 400 title in 55.28.

Wellington's Keely O'Hagan and Liz Lamb of Auckland both cleared 1.84 metres in the women's high jump, but O'Hagan claimed the victory on the countback from the three-time previous champion.

Aucklander Portia Bing provided somewhat of an upset in the women's 100 metres 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 110 metres hurdles title went to Auckland's Joshua Hawkins in 14.41 seconds, well clear of Jack Henry and Stephen Isaac.

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 6.95 metres, 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!" says Powell.

Waikato Bay of Plenty took out the men's 4x100 metres relay title while Auckland were clear victors in the women's event.

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