Athletics: NZ's new fastest man set on trimming time

By Dana Johannsen

Joseph Millar. Photo / Joel Ford
Joseph Millar. Photo / Joel Ford

Tauranga's Joseph Millar can now boast of being New Zealand's fastest man, blitzing his way to the 100m title at the track and field nationals with a time that ranks him among the country's all-time best.

Although Millar's time of 10.32 seconds last night in Auckland was a personal best and moves him up to No 3 in the all-time rankings, the 20-year-old said he was hoping to go faster.

"I was happy with the way I executed the race, I got a good start but I was hoping to crack that 10.3 barrier," he said.

"But the wind had dropped off and as soon as I got going I felt the chill, so I couldn't quite do it."

Millar won the final comfortably over the Auckland rival Isaac Tatoa, who also clocked up a handy time of 10.54, while Manawatu's Andy Kruy finished third in 10.79.

After last night's blistering performance Millar is confident of making further improvements when he heads across the Tasman for a couple of international meets.

It was a good night for Waikato-Bay of Plenty athletics, with Mariah Ririnui winning the women's 100m title also in a personal best time of 11.88 seconds.

There was arguably more interest in the women's sprint final last night, with Black Sticks star Anita Punt one of the favourites for a national title. One of the speedsters in world hockey, Punt started dabbling in athletics earlier this year after being invited to compete in an exhibition event in Christchurch.

The diminutive striker was unbeaten on the track heading into nationals but was well off the pace last night, coming in fifth after pulling up over the final stages of the race. There was some suggestion Punt was battling injury, but she could not be located after the race.

An emotional Ririnui said she was shocked by the win. It was the 20-year-old's first national title at senior level.

"I was aiming to medal and hopefully do a PB so to win the title is just awesome," she said.

Canterbury's Kelsey Berryman was second in 11.92, while Rochelle Coster of Auckland was third.

London Olympian Sarah Cowley, who has decided this year to drop the heptathlon and focus solely on high jump, had a disappointing meet, finishing third in her event.

Elizabeth Lamb took out the title with a jump of 1.82m, with Portia Bing awarded second place on count back.

The nationals continues over the weekend, with world and Olympic champion Valerie Adams the big drawcard in today's events as she chases her 12th national title in the women's shotput.

Jacko Gill will make his competitive return in the men's shotput tomorrow.

- NZ Herald

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