Athletics: Walsh getting Rio Olympics inspiration from Gill's form

By Dale Budge

Shot put champion Tom Walsh has been inspired. Photo / Greg Bowker
Shot put champion Tom Walsh has been inspired. Photo / Greg Bowker

Injured Kiwi shot put star Tom Walsh sees the rejuvenated form of national rival Jacko Gill as something that can help launch his own Olympic aspirations this year.

Walsh was forced out of the Big Shot event in Christchurch a week ago with a hip injury and had to watch as Gill overtook his national resident record but the 23-year-old is now even more determined to get that record back in two upcoming events.

"When he broke that resident record - I didn't want him to," Walsh told the Weekend Herald. "So there is a rivalry for me there. I don't want to lose to him and I always want to throw further than him. He may not think so, but if he isn't there, I am probably not as worried as if he was there. I definitely think he pushes me along.

"It wasn't a good record anyway. It was about time someone threw further than that."

Walsh says he should be over the minor hip complaint that forced him out of the Big Shot by the time of the Auckland Track Challenge (February 25) and the national championships in Dunedin on March 4-6. He hopes to go head-to-head with Gill at those events.

"I wish we got to compete against each other more often," Walsh says. "It would be important to beat him. I think it would be my national seventh title if I won it.

"Hopefully me and Jacko can really wind things up by then. Hopefully I will be able to be injury-free by then and be up around the 21m mark and give him a good nudge."

Walsh is pleased Gill has responded this year and is starting to fulfil the potential everyone saw in him from a young age.

"It is pretty cool to have Jacko around and he is throwing really well. It is really good for New Zealand to have two guys throwing 20m-plus at the nationals. It has never happened before.

"He looked really good. He has started to look like the Jacko of old - the fast and explosive Jacko that we knew as a junior so that is scary for me. It is good to know that he is back on the right track. I think there is a little bit more left there, too."

In what is a massive year for both athletes with the indoor world championships straight after the nationals and then the run in to the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, Walsh admits he has dreamed about the ultimate goal on a few occasions.

"A medal is what I want this year. Ideally it would be standing on top of the podium and not in second or third. You have to give yourself a chance to dream about certain things, otherwise you don't look forward to something. But at the same time, you have to make sure you focus on the process and not the outcome too much."

- NZ Herald

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