Athletics: Gill leads NZ chances at world junior champs

Jacko Gill. Photo / NZ Herald
Jacko Gill. Photo / NZ Herald

New Zealand's shot put sensation Jacko Gill will defend his world junior shot put title in Barcelona on Thursday morning. (NZT)

Gill will be defending the under-20 title that he won two years ago in Moncton, Canada as a 15-year-old, before he went on to win at the world youth (under-18) championships last year in Lille, France.

The Takapuna 17-year-old is over a metre ahead of his nearest rival and leads the world junior rankings for 2012 with the 6kg shot with 22.30m.

Gill had a best of 22.31m in 2011 and his closet rival, Krzysztof Brzozowski of Poland, has a 2012 best of 21.14m.

Brzozowski is the only person to have beaten Gill in age-group competition, at the 2010 Youth Olympic Games in Singapore with the 5kg shot, while Australian Damien Birkinhead is ranked third with 21.12m.

An added incentive for Gill is the world junior 6kg shot put record of 22.73m held by the current world senior champion David Storl of Germany since 2009.

The shot put qualifying rounds are at 7.10pm Wednesday evening (NZ time) and the final is at 5.20am Thursday morning (NZ time).

Gill is a member of a 13-strong New Zealand team competing at the championships, which run from Tuesday to Sunday.

Julia Ratcliffe from Hamilton comes into the championships ranked eighth in the hammer throw with her recent performance of 64.21m.

Siositina Hakeai (Auckland), who threw the discus 54.49m in France at the end of last month is now ranked 13th, while Otago's Rebekah Greene should perform well in the 3000m with her 15th ranked time of 9m 21.82s. Greene will also be competing in the 1500m.

Portia Bing (Auckland) has a best heptathlon total of 5276 but recent individual performances indicate she should improve on this.

Otago sprinter Andrew Whyte has shown good form with a big improvement in recent weeks to record a personal best 400m of 46.73s, while Ben Moynihan, a late addition to the team is improving all the time in the 1500m.

New Zealand team: Jacko Gill (shot put), Rebekah Greene (3000m, 1500m), Kodi Harman (100m, 200m), Andrew Whyte (400m), Ben Moynihan (1500m), Julian Oakley (1500m, 800m), Nicholas Southgate (pole vault), Phil Simms (400m hurdles), Julia Ratcliffe (hammer throw), Portia Bing (heptathlon), Brad Mathas (800m), Siositina Hakeai (discus), Merewarihi Vaka (discus).

- APNZ

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