Athletics: Jacko Gill sets record at Big Throw, qualifies for Rio Olympics

Jacko Gill of New Zealand competes in the Men's Shot Put Final. Photo / Getty Images
Jacko Gill of New Zealand competes in the Men's Shot Put Final. Photo / Getty Images

Jacko Gill has kicked off his 2016 New Zealand season with a stunning personal best of 20.83m, surpassing the Rio 2016 Olympics Nomination A standard of 20.50, and erasing the 20.79 NZ resident record held by Tom Walsh.

Throwing at The Big Shot competition at the Retro Sports Facility in Christchurch, Gill hit the big throw on his first attempt and was then challenged by Australian Damien Birkenhead, also tossing out a personal best of 20.80 to better the Australian Rio standard.

The event lost some gloss with the late withdrawal of NZ champion and national record holder Tom Walsh. Walsh suffered a slight hip injury in training on Sunday and thought it best to sit out the competition to prevent aggravating the injury as he prepares for the NZ Championships, World Indoor Championships in March and the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

While Walsh lost his resident record (the best throw by a New Zealander in New Zealand), he still holds the New Zealand national record at 21.62, set in finishing fourth at the Beijing World Championships in 2015.

Gill's throw installs him as world outdoor leader early in the 2016 season, and the 21-year-old has now achieved the World Indoor Championships qualification standard.

The Street Mile race was won by Nick Willis in 4:15.9 ahead of Australian 1500m record holder Ryan Gregson, unleashing his famous sprint over the closing stages. Gregson's time was 4:17.1 and fellow Australian Brett Robinson finished in 4:19.1 ahead of Kiwi 800m champion Brad Mathas.

Willis now heads to his Michigan base to race indoors in Boston and New York, ahead of the World Indoor Championships in Portland, USA.

The women's mile went the way of an Australian quinella with Genevieve LaCaze winning in 4:35.8 from Melissa Duncan (4:36.3). Third place and the leading Kiwi was 800m specialist Angie Petty in 4:37.7, heading in other Kiwis Lucy Oliver (Van Dalen) and Rosa Flanagan.

- NZ Herald

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