Athletics: Hockey rep wins on track

Anita Punt.  Photo / Natalie Slade
Anita Punt. Photo / Natalie Slade

New Zealand women's hockey player Anita Punt had often wondered how competitive she would be as a track sprinter and yesterday found the answer: very.

That's so even when lining up against some of this country's best sprinters. Punt, who has played 103 tests for the Black Sticks, won both the 100m and 300m at the International Track Meet at Christ's College in Christchurch yesterday. She beat the likes of Fiona Morrison and Kelsey Berryman, who own a number of national titles between them.

Punt took out the 300m in 39.6 seconds from Auckland's Zoe Ballantyne, with Morrison third, and also won the 100m in a photo finish over Berryman and Morrison. A strong easterly made for slow times, with Punt winning the 100m in 12.61s into a 2.9m/s headwind.

The 25-year-old is expected to enter next month's national championships in Auckland, although she will have little time to focus on sprint training given she will soon travel to Argentina with the Black Sticks for a five-test series against the Olympic silver medallists.

"Hockey is still my main focus, definitely, and will always come first but I think it'll be fun just to see how far I can go with athletics," Punt said.

The strong wind and grass track meant Nick Willis failed to dip under the four-minute mile barrier. He faded on the last lap but still won in 4m 08.16s.

Olympian Lucy Van Dalen led for most of the women's 3000m but was out-sprinted in the final 80m by Susan Kuijken of the Netherlands, a triple medallist at NCAA level in the US college system.

Tom Walsh's winning shot put distance of 19.83m added 50cm to his personal best and is closing on the 20.10m qualifying mark for this year's world championships.

- APNZ

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