18 Feb 2017

Best ever shot put field hits New Zealand

11:41 am on 18 February 2017

The greatest shot put field to ever line up in New Zealand will compete in Christchurch this weekend and Auckland next week.

Olympic champion Ryan Crouser heads a field that also includes a former world indoor champion and New Zealand's best.

American Olympic shotput champion Ryan Crouser.

American Olympic shotput champion Ryan Crouser. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Some of the biggest grunters from world athletics have descended on Christchurch with Athletics New Zealand luring four of the top nine men's shot putters from last year's Rio Olympics for two events over the next week.

Athletics Events manager Gareth Archer has no doubts about the quality of the field.

"You'd have to say it's right up there in terms of world class and we're certainly confident in promoting the event in that it will be one of the best men's fields, if not the best, men's shot put fields in the world this year outside of the London World Championships in August."

Olympic champion Ryan Crouser is the star attraction... he surprised many with his Olympic record throw that won him gold in Rio and many are predicting he'll be the next man to go over 23 metres.

Crouser admits his six months since the Olympics have been hectic, but he's managed to refocus by getting back into his training and says he feels pretty good with his form and he likes the competition he'll face.

"For me coming from the States it's the middle of our indoor season, so for me I'm sort of treating it like an indoor meet in terms of how I would appraise my performance."

"I'm a big believer that the bigger the meet, the more pressure the better people tend to throw."

However Crouser isn't just throwing while he's here, he's also planning on making the most of our outdoors with some hunting and fishing.

Tom Walsh throws in the Men's Shot Put at the Auckland Track Challenge, Douglas Track and Field.Trusts Arena, Auckland, New Zealand, Thursday, February 25, 2016. Copyright photo: David Rowland / www.photosport.nz

Tom Walsh in action Photo: Photosport

Canterbury's Tom Walsh who finished third to Crouser at Rio is the big local hope.

He's delighted to have this quality of field competing at home.

"To have Olympic champion Ryan Crouser here, to have Ryan Whiting, two-time World Indoor Champion, Olympic finalists Damien Birkinhead from Australia and our own Jacko Gill, it's crazy you don't get fields like that in Europe sometimes."

Walsh, who like the rest of the field is aiming towards this year's World Championships, is hoping this will further enhance the interest from young athletes locally, who on Sunday will be able to get up close.

"Sometimes in Europe we compete in places like train stations and town squares and I think it's better for the crowd because they can see you up close two or three metres away rather than being 30 metres away in a stand and it gives you a perspective of how much energy the boys are putting into the shot put and how fast and smoothly they move in the circle as well."

Jacko Gill competing in the qualifying rounds at the Rio Olympics 2016

Jacko Gill Photo: Photosport

Jacko Gill, ninth in Rio, demonstrated he is in good form early in the season, hitting 21.01m in Lower Hutt a couple of weeks a week ago and he is eager to take some scalps at the two meetings.

Also competing is Waikato teenager Ryan Ballantyne who has broken numerous records in his young career.

They'll also compete at the Auckland Track Challenge next weekend.

The Christchurch competition will be held at the Retro Sports Facility at the corner of Durham and Kilmore streets on Sunday afternoon.