Athletics: Rising star pins qualifying hope on Swiss meeting

After getting tantalisingly close in Nottwil, Tom Walsh is positive he'll throw the B standard in Lausanne and is not thinking too much past that. Photo / Brett Phibbs
After getting tantalisingly close in Nottwil, Tom Walsh is positive he'll throw the B standard in Lausanne and is not thinking too much past that. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Kiwi shot putter Tom Walsh will line up for Friday's Diamond League meeting in Lausanne confident he can make up the single centimetre needed to qualify for the world championships.

The 21-year-old, who is training alongside two-time Olympic champion Valerie Adams in Switzerland, has enjoyed a breakthrough season, twice throwing beyond the 20m mark.

However, Walsh has still to attain the B standard mark of 20.1m. In his previous outing, he fell an agonising 1cm short of attaining the distance which would make him eligible for selection for next month's Moscow World Championships.

Lausanne represents a golden opportunity for the South Canterbury thrower to secure that goal, because he is pitched up against all three medallists from last year's Olympics and the world No 1 thrower this year, Ryan Whiting of the US.

"It will be a great experience," Walsh said. "I competed against a few of the top guys in Hengelo [in the Netherlands] and hopefully I can knock off one or two of them.

" ... I believe I can throw the A standard [of 20.60m] and also break the New Zealand record [held by Jacko Gill at 20.38m]."

Walsh made a major advance in Ried, Austria in mid-June when he threw 20.07m, but was to suffer even greater frustration in his outing in Nottwil, Switzerland last weekend with his winning mark of 20.09m.

"When they first pulled the tape back it read 20.10m, which is exactly what I needed," Walsh said. "As they unravelled the tape, though, it came down to 20.09m and a half. Unbelievably close."

Organisers did not have the electronic distance measuring equipment on the day of competition but did re-measure the distance with it the following day. The original mark remained and Walsh received the news he had fallen tantalisingly short. He refused to be too downbeat and he was confident he would extend his stay in Europe beyond the July 15 date he is booked to fly back home.

"I've got one more competition planned after Lausanne, in Madrid on July 13," he said. "But I'm not even thinking about that. The way I see it is I'm going to throw the B standard in Lausanne and, maybe, stay out here for a further six weeks. I have to think positively."

- APNZ

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