Commonwealth Games: Silver in shot put and hammer throw

By David Leggat in Glasgow

New Zealand made it double silver at Hampden Park this morning, with shot putter Tom Walsh and hammer thrower Julia Ratcliffe each finishing second.

But the emotions were starkly different.

Where Princeton University-based Ratcliffe was delighted with her performance, Walsh was doing it tough under the main stand after being shaded by Jamaican O'Dayne Richards.

Walsh had the lead with his 20.96m second throw, before Richards pulled out a monster 21.61m with his fourth effort.

Walsh tried to respond but could get no closer than 21.19m as Richards celebrated.

The Timaru 22-year-old had produced a Commonwealth Games record with his first throw in qualifying a day earlier, a 21.24m, which Richards eclipsed in the final.

But although his grouping of scores was consistent, Walsh was not able to peg back the burly Jamaican.

"Obviously I wanted the gold but I'll definitely take the silver," Walsh said.

"I thought I had it in me, I tried my best but these things happen."


Tom Walsh during the shot put finals. Photo / Greg Bowker

Walsh admitted his timing was off a touch, plus he felt some tension as the pressure went on in the closing stages.

"I'm still missing the rhythm a wee bit, no doubt about that," he said.

"I'm just rushing things. It's tough to look back on right now. If I had the timing I had probably yesterday and was as calm as I was it probably could have been pretty close."

Canadian Tim Nedow took the bronze medal with a best throw of 20.59m.

Maybe Richards was fired up by the ground announcer consistently referring to him as "Richard O'Dayne", just as New Zealand's second thrower in the final might have been puzzled at hearing himself announced to the full house as "Jacko Jill".

Gill had a poor final and failed to make the final eight. His best effort was 18.05m and he fouled the first of his three throws in finishing 11th of the 12 athletes.

Ratcliffe had gone into the women's hammer ranked third, but exceeded expectations, performing better than all except colourful Canadian Sultana Frizzell.

Frizzell was outstanding, setting two Games records with her first and fifth throws, which pushed the best mark out to 71.97m.

Ratcliffe started strongly with a 68.35m, eased that out to her best of the night, 69.96m on her third throw and that was good enough to hold off England's Sophie Hitchon.

HItchon was second on Commonwealth rankings going into the meet, one place ahead of the Waikato 20-year-old, but had a disappointing night.

Ratcliffe felt for Hitchon, acknowledging an off night can happen to the best. But she was chuffed with her return.

''Just over the moon. I was thinking I'd have to fight for third. To get silver, unreal," Ratcliffe said.

By the time the competition began Ratcliffe said she ''felt ready".


Hammer throwers Julia Ratcliffe (Silver, NZ), Sultana Frizell (Gold, CAN) and Sophie Hitchon (Bronze, ENG). Photo / Greg Bowker

''I'd been sitting around in my room. (High jumper) Sarah Cowley my room mate has been patient, given me space to have a nap, just waiting to go out and do my thing."

Ratcliffe said she felt calm, apart from one thing.

''I don't like it when they put me throwing up on the big screen, because that's where I put my head. So I'd look up at myself in the eyes when I was throwing."

When Frizzell opened with a 70.55m, Ratcliffe just briefly thought she might be in with a shout of the gold.

''But I got too big for my britches and she smashed it again. It's awesome to compete against people like that."

Frizzell gave the significantly smaller New Zealander, whose personal best remains 70.28m, a big rap after the competition, insisting she viewed her as a threat.

''Absolutely. She's amazing," the Canadian said.

''She's got a pretty good future in hammer throwing and I look forward to her over the next couple of years going to Rio."

Auckland decathlete Scott McLaren was forced to pull out of the Games competition after just four of the 10 events, with a heel injury. He had surgery last September.

- NZ Herald

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