First athletes named for Glasgow

By Dana Johannsen

Tom Walsh has proven he's the nation's top male shot putter. Photo / Brett Phibbs.
Tom Walsh has proven he's the nation's top male shot putter. Photo / Brett Phibbs.

The New Zealand Olympic Committee has named the first athletes to represent New Zealand at this year's Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

Competing in track and field, the athletes named today include several world-class international competitors in Valerie Adams (shot put), Nick Willis (1500) and Stuart Farquhar (javelin). Between them, the athletes hold three gold, two silver and one bronze from previous Commonwealth Games, and two gold and one silver from Olympic Games.
NZOC chief executive Kereyn Smith said she is delighted to have the team namings underway.

"Glasgow 2014 will be an outstanding event for the high performance athletes confirmed to the team today, testing them against some of the best athletes in the world as well as providing them with elite multi-sport experience in the build-up to Rio 2016."

Sarah Cowley (high jump) competed in the London 2012 Olympic Games and the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games in the heptathlon so will have multi-sport event experience to call on when she competes in Glasgow. Cowley is the latest athlete to achieve the standard, jumping 1.89 and placing second at the Australian championships over the weekend.

The other seven track and field athletes named today will all be attending their first Commonwealth Games.

Shot putters Tom Walsh and Jacko Gill form a dynamic duo in the men's shot put and have realistic chances to win medals. They have both had recent success on the international stage with Walsh bursting onto the world stage with a bronze medal at the 2014 World Indoor championships in Poland, throwing 21.26. Gill is the current world junior champion and record holder at 23.00 with a lighter implement.

The pair met in competition for the first time in over two years at last week's New Zealand championships with Walsh the victor in a New Zealand resident and all-comers record. Gill's throw in second place would have won every other New Zealand championship contested.

The selection also includes African based distance runners Zane and Jake Robertson (both 5000m), who had some very good international results in 2013 and have run just outside the New Zealand records for 5000m and 10,000m respectively.

Angie Smit (800m) finished fourth at the 2013 World University Games and had her major championships debut at last year's Moscow world championships. She will benefit from the experience when she runs in Glasgow.

Exciting young throwers Julia Ratcliffe (hammer) and Siositina Hakeai (discus) complete the initial selection. Both athletes finished fourth at the 2012 world junior championships and have continued to improve since then. Ratcliffe further improving her national record and 20 year old Hakeai improving former World Champion and Commonwealth Games gold medallist Beatrice Faumuina's national U20 record.

Athletics New Zealand selection convenor Graham Seatter, a Commonwealth Games athlete the last time the Games were held in Scotland (Edinburgh 1986) is pleased the New Zealand Olympic Committee was able to confirm eleven selections today.

"This will allow those athletes who have reached to selection criteria to now concentrate on their preparation for Glasgow and perform up to their very best,"said Seatter.

Marathon, Decathlon and Heptathlon athletes will be named in the second group of selections on in May and a final athletics selection will take place in early June.

The New Zealand Commonwealth Games team is expected to be made up of around 200 athletes competing in 17 sports.

The New Zealand swimming team for Glasgow 2014 will be named Friday evening with Lawn Bowls, Bike and Triathlon announced the following week.

The Commonwealth Games take place 23 July - 3 August 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland.

- APNZ

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