Athletics New Zealand Track and Field Championships, Caledonian Ground - March 4-6 2016

Tom Walsh won his seventh New Zealand shot put title at the 2016 Lion Foundation New Zealand Track & Field Championships in Dunedin on Friday, throwing a fresh New Zealand resident record. Walsh, from Canterbury, had a good tussle with Auckland's Jacko Gill early in the Hill City University Athletic Club men's shot put, with Gill momentarily taking the lead with his third round throw of 20.22m. Walsh responded immediately with a big throw of 21.11m, his best of the day, adding 0.20m to his NZ resident record set at the Auckland Track Challenge eight days earlier, which in turn supplanted Gill's 20.83 set earlier in February. Gill improved to 20.23 on his fifth round effort. Ryan Ballantyne, the Waikato 17 year old filled third place with 15.85, a distance that would have won the title as recently as 2006. It was Walsh's first 21 metre throw in New Zealand.

"Without Jacko around I wouldn't be throwing as far as I am, he's really pushed me and for a long time there he was in front of me, so he's been someone out in the front of me to chase and now the tables have turned a little bit but it's really good to have him around New Zealand and have him right behind me," said Walsh.

"I'm really looking forward to world indoors as that is where I came on to the world stage with that break-through performance to get third so hopefully I can do something like that again and throw really well," he added.

Gill said it was great competing with Walsh. "It's really cool to have us competing in the same competition and I look forward to it again at world indoors in a couple of weeks-time. "Competing against Tom is good it really aspires me to throw a lot further and when I see him throw far I want to throw further too," said Gill.

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Ballantyne said he learnt a lot from being in the competition. "I love it, there's tension there with those two. Jacko threw over Tom and you can see Tom getting fired up and then he gets that 21, it's awesome to be part of it. And I learn a lot every single time," he said.

Matthew Wyatt (Auckland) took a surprisingly easy victory in the Otago Polytechnic men's 100m final in a personal best of 10.68 into a head wind from Scott Walker and Alex Jordan.

Wyatt said that he was nervous going into the race. "So I was just trying to make sure that I got the start away clean. The first step I was a little bit slow, but my weapon was the drive phase after that so I just went ballistic to half way and from there it was make or break and luckily I done enough work to be far enough out so I didn't have to tense up and I took it to the line."

Auckland teammate Rochelle Coster, after five minor medals in 2010 - 2014 and disqualification last year, finally won gold in the Braken Learning women's 100m in a personal best of 11.64. Previous champions Kelsey Berryman (2015) and Fiona Morrison (2014) filled the minor placings.

Coster was over the moon in winning her first ever senior national title. "I'm so happy to have finally won this one. I had a great start and Kelsey alongside me really gave me that push to finish strong. Once I was a few metres out from the line I almost celebrated. It was such relief so much building up, I've had a great season and I've been unlucky with windy times for PB's and things so it's just relief to have a good time and a good final."

The much anticipated under 20 women's 100m was taken out by Zoe Hobbs from Lucy Sheat in 11.93 while Hamish Gill beat Jacob Matson and Jordan Bolland in the under 20 men's race. Gill also won the under 20 men's long jump gold with 7.36.

Matt Bloxham (Auckland) retained his Les Mills senior men's hammer title with a best throw of 61.63 from Warren Button and Todd Bates.

Camille Buscomb had too much for Andrea Hewitt over the last lap of the Leith Harriers women's 5000m winning in 16:03.75 by just over one second.

The men's 5000m gold went to Hayden McLaren, grabbing his first national senior track title in 14:37.26 from Oska Inkster-Baynes and Caden Shields.

Cameron Avery made it a treble of titles winning the under 20 5000m in 15:28.18 to add to the 3000m and 10,000m won earlier in the season.
"I was just very grateful that I could hold off fast finishing Angus today," said Avery.

In a very close tussle between the discus divas, Siositina Hakeai prevailed over Te Rina Keenan by just 0.03 throwing 56.11 to 56.08. It was Hakeai's fifth successive Les Mills national senior discus title.

Kelsey Berryman's disappointment of losing her 100m title was tempered by her narrow first victory in the women's long jump 5.93 to 5.92 over previous winner Mariah Ririnui.

Senior 3000m race walking titles went to Jonathon Lord and Rozie Robinson.

Javelin thrower Tanya Murray set a new national under 17 record of 45.53 winning the Athletics Taieri under 18 contest.

Hollie Robinson took out the Para women's javelin with a new personal best of 40.41, while other Para-athlete winners were Jess Hamill in women's shot put, Aodhan Hamilton in the men's discus, William Stedman and Anna Grimaldi over 100m, while Stedman also won the long jump.

Eliza McCartney stole the limelight on day two of the Lion Foundation New Zealand Track and Field championships in Dunedin on Saturday, setting a New Zealand record of 4.80m in the pole vault.

The clearance in the Bluebridge Ferries sponsored event bettered the national, resident, allcomers and under 20 records and takes the Auckland 19 year old to the top of the world outdoor rankings for 2016, although four athletes have vaulted higher indoors this year.

McCartney said she didn't realise how high she had vaulted. "It's getting up there, even I look back and say gosh that is high, it's exciting. I only managed to get one attempt at 4.85m and I was having to re-focus myself and I was really happy to get a good attempt at it, I'll look at the videos later but it felt like a good jump. Last year I didn't do a lot of competing, and I feel that a lot of the training we did last year is coming through now and it is making some big improvements," she said.

McCartney is now forcing herself into the early reckoning for medals at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games if she can continue her recent improvements. But before Rio, the Halberg Emerging talent award winner will contest the World Indoor Championships in under two weeks in the US city of Portland, Oregon.

The best track race of the day was the women's 100m hurdles which turned into a titanic battle between 100m champion Rochelle Coster and previous hurdles champion Fiona Morrison. Coster started well but Morrison finished faster to take the title by just 0.02. Morrison's 13.21 and Coster's 13.23 were personal bests and took them to second and third on the all-time list respectively. Morrison also eclipsed Andrea Miller's 2008 New Zealand resident record of 13.34s.

Josh Hawkins repeated his Otago Polytechnic 110m hurdles title win from last season in 14.25.

The 800m titles had a symmetry about them with training partners Brad Mathas and Angie Petty, both coached by Maria Hassan and both taking their fifth consecutive titles. Petty ran from the front all the way to win in a season's best of 2:02.08 while Mathas faced more of a challenge before winning in 1:50.47.

Petty was hoping to go a little quicker. "Happy to get the title, but I just thought with good conditions I could've had a better time. So it's been 2:02.00 consistently but each time a little bit faster. I was hoping that I was in better shape than that. "I'm on to Sydney in two weeks for the 1500m where I hope to get the Rio qualifier and then finish up the New Zealand season and build up for Rio and going over to Europe in June," said Petty.

Mathas said time was not as important to him it was the title he was after. "Pretty stoked to get my fifth national title, that was the main goal today just to get the title so I ran the race that I knew nobody would beat me. Time was not fast but championship races are all about winning so that's what I did. "Training has come together well in the last couple of weeks and it was good to finally get a decent race under my belt," he said.

Andrew Whyte won back his men's title in 46.70 while women's champion Louise Jones collected her fifth title with 54.05, both in dominant displays. "The 400m time was not quite what I was going for, but I've got those Aussie champs to look forward to in a couple of weeks and hopefully get close to that 52 again," said Jones.

Julia Ratcliffe's hope for a big distance didn't materialise but she had the satisfaction of winning her third national hammer title in 65.93, the longest ever distance for the championships. "I got the win but not so happy with the series but you can't keep improving every week you kind of hit a point where every second week or so I've been moving up. So I've just got to stick at it got to keep showing up," said Radcliffe.

Valerie Adams came to Dunedin to throw her shot put a long way and to win her fourteenth national shot put title. She left with both objectives achieved and a smile on her face. Adams won the Bracken Learning women's shot put with a 2016 world leading 19.43, and heads to the World Indoor championships with enthusiasm and can approach the defence of her Olympic shot put title with some confidence that her preparation is on track.

"Title number 14 is not bad it just shows my age a little bit but hey I'll take it. "It's the quickest competition I've ever been with three competitors and it was bam, bam, bam.
"I'm pretty stoked with today, it's a better indication of where I'm at and I know there's still more there but it's just a matter of competing, competing, getting out there and getting my confidence back. "Today was all about having fun coming out and just doing what I love to do and being patient, and tried to enjoy the atmosphere. "The body is actually pretty good and I'm in pretty good nick. "My coach is pretty happy today, happy coach happy life," said Adams.

Her coach Jean-Pierre Egger was pleased with the progress made. "We are very happy to be out of this long term after surgeries and now we see again the light and possibility to increase the performance in the next time and especially for Rio. I'm happy for not only the best throw but also for the series five throws over 19 metres I think it is a very good performance today.

Hamish Carson made no race of the Shoe Clinic men's 1500m, winning in 3.44.42 by the massive margin of nine seconds in a virtual solo time trial. The Wellingtonian now has five New Zealand 1500m titles to his name and crosses the Tasman in two weeks for the Sydney Classic, where he will race another 1500m before heading to the US in search of a Rio 2016 Qualifying standard. The Auckland pair of Ben Moynihan and Alex Parlane filled the minor placings.

Carson said that a Rio time was not possible in the conditions. "I just wanted to go out there and have a hard effort and I succeeded in that. Realistically with the conditions if the wind was a bit less I would have really gone for it. It was good to go out there and get a solid effort in before Sydney in 13 days' time," he said.

Angie Petty took out the Shoe Clinic women's 1500m to give her the championships middle distance double for the second time. Petty's win was built off the early work by 5000m champion Camille Buscomb, who led for the first lap before the Cantabrian took over and went away to win, resisting some late pressure from Auckland's Katie Wright who took silver ahead of Buscomb.

The Quax surname lives on in middle distance running in New Zealand with 1976 Olympic Games silver medallist Dick Quax's 16 year old son Theo winning the under 18 1500m in an almost six second PB of 3:52.70. Quax had to call on all his reserves down the stretch to hold out Isaiah Priddey who had won the 3000m on day one in 8:41.67. "My whole strategy was just sticking to Isaiah as I knew he would take it out he's a real strong runner and hopefully have enough to kick him at the end and I did," said Quax.

Stuart Farquhar won the Athletics Taieri men's javelin, his sixteenth senior national title, without the expected challenge from training partner Ben Langton-Burnell, who had his appendix removed earlier in the week. Farquhar's winning throw of 77.77 came in the first round, but a wind change as the event started meant the athletes had to contend with an unfavourable head wind, so Farquhar might have expected a better return for his efforts. The 33 year old is still searching for the Rio Standard which would see him compete at his fourth Olympic Games. "I felt a lot better out there, the best sort of feeling all season. Been working a lot on my run up and I've finally found it and think getting out there and pushing it all six throws and pretty much nailing every six throw on the run up. I was very happy with. When it came to the distance it was quite tricky because we were put into a head wind so distance wasn't really a huge beneficial sort of thing. It was hard but challenging so I really had to work for a reasonably good distance," said Farquhar.
"I've got another couple of comps in Australia and the Japanese circuit as well," he added.
Alex Jordan made this most of the absence of the country's top sprinters to pounce on the Ariki Athletic men's 200m title, to repeat his 2011 victory in the event, recording a modest 22.00. Just 0.05 split the three medallists with Michael Goldie and Zac Topping filling the minor placings.

Louise Jones grabbed the Makoxcell women's 200m gold to go with her 400m win the day before, stopping the clock at 24.39, her second 200m title, having also taken the title in 2014.

The big action in the 200m races came in the junior grades with the under 20 women providing what was arguably the race of the championships. Jones winning time in the senior race would have placed her fifth in the under 20 race, with the first four athletes all going under the qualifying time for the world junior championships later in the year.
The winner, 16 year old Lucy Sheat from Blenheim clocked 23.75, erasing the national under 17, 18 and 19 records which have stood for 26 years. 100m champion Zoe Hobbs, Georgia Hulls and Olivia Eaton also went under the 24.00 world champs standard. With initial entries limited to three per country, and only two per country allowed to compete at the champs, the selectors look likely to have a welcome headache.

Sheat was delighted with the win and the records. "I cannot believe it, it's insane. I just went out there gave it my best and pulled it off so it was great. "I knew it would be tough, it wasn't going to be easy against the other under amazing runners in our relay squad, we have such a great team of runners, so I just had to push it and bring it home at the start. I didn't know I had the record going through the finish didn't even cross my mind, I was so happy to have my first gold at nationals I couldn't be happier. "I'm so excited in July going to Poland so I've got to build up for that now," she said. "Dennis Kale, my coach has been incredible, he's from Nelson so it's been a little bit tough for us being in different places but he's been amazing sending over programmes and he seems to be getting us quite spot on at the moment," added Sheat.

The winner of the Ariki Athletic & Harriers under 20 men's 200m final, Hamish Gill was timed at 21.09, also bettering the world junior champs standard and collecting his third title of the championships to go with his 100m and long jump titles on Friday. "It's a relief, coming into it I was thinking this is going to be my big shot and I'm thankful that the weather turned out the way it was. I was extremely happy with the time as I went across the line and needless to say I felt a bit sick afterwards as it was a hard run," said Gill. "I'm now off to the Australian seniors," he added.

Ebuka Okpala, perhaps encouraged by his sister's national triple jump record in Melbourne the previous night, won the senor men's triple with a huge 15.85, the longest ever winning distance in the triple jump championship, albeit helped by an assisting tail wind.

Phil Simms and Anna Percy took out the 400m hurdles titles with the leading hurdlers preferring to compete in Melbourne, while Sam Pinson won the Calder Stewart Construction men's high jump and Anna Thomson was the winner of the Otago Polytechnic women's triple jump.

Jonathon Lord collected his second racewalking title at the championships in the 20km race while Kate Newitt won the women's title for the same distance.

Para-Athletes Anna Grimaldi and William Stedman collected more medals in their events with Grimaldi adding the 200m title to the 100m and long jump efforts while Stedman also won his 200m race to go with his wins in the 100m, 800m and long jump events.

IAAF Melbourne World Challenge, Lakeside Stadium, Albert Park Victoria - March 5 2016
Nneka Okpala extended her New Zealand national triple jump record to 13.89m (0.0) and edged closer to the Rio Olympic Games qualifying distance of 14.15m. Tom Walsh followed up his national title win the day before with another win in the shot with 20.87m. Matthew Bloxham likewise after defending his hammer title was third in the hammer with a throw of 61.30m. Joseph Millar was second in both the 100m and 200m in 10.40 (+1.0) and 20.95 (-1.0). Eric Speakman set a PB of 3:40.26 in finishing fourth in the 1500m. Malcolm Hicks ran a PB 13:38.51 for fifth in the 5000m, Aaron Pulford was eleventh in 13:57.21. Michael Cochrane won the 400m hurdles in 50.48 from Cameron French who clocked 50.57. Mackenzie Keenan was third in the women's 400m hurdles in a PB 58.89. Rosa Flanagan was fifth in the 3000m steeplechase in 10:06.39.

Tokyo Marathon - February 28 2016
Ruth Croft took nearly six minutes off her PB in finishing 17th in 2:40:59. Helah Kiprop of Kenya won in 2:21:27.

Brighton Half Marathon - February 28 2016
Paul Martelletti won the half marathon in 1:04:53, just 35 seconds slower than his personal best set in Wokingham a year ago. Tim Prendergast was 23rd in 1:14:37.

Victorian Championships, Melbourne, February 26:
Nneka Okpala TJ 13.48m. 27 February: Ellen Schaef 800m 2:11.11 (2h1). 28 February Ellen Schaef 800m 2:10.02 (4).

American Indoor Conference, Birmingham Alabama, February 28:
Bailey Stewart 400m 48.23 (3h1). 29 February: Bailey Stewart 400m 47.62 (2) New Zealand indoor record, bettering Nic O'Brien's time of 48.03 in New York on 14 February 2003.

Obituary
Southland Boys' High School year nine student Jonty Carran who competed for Otautau Athletic Club died in his sleep on February 27 2016 aged 13. Jonty was a popular member of his Club and a successful and promising young athlete in Southland junior athletics.

Road and Trail Races around the country

Ports of Auckland Round-the-Bays 8.4km, March 6:
Jono Jackson, fifth year in a row 25:59, Harry Linford 26:35, Luke Hurring 26:45, Brad Luiten 27:06. Olivia Burne, last year's women's winner 28:02, Rowan Torckler 28:23, Alice Mason 30:14, Alana Sherman 32:09.

Rotorua Off Road Half Marathon, March 6:
Michael Voss 1:17:09, Peter Campbell 1:28:32, Tony Broadhead 1:29:04. Johanna Ottosson 1:33:07, Kristen Milne 1:40:26, Sue Crowley 1:40:59.

Mountain to Surf Marathon, Egmont National Park to Marine Park Waitara, March 5:
Ciaran Faherty 2:22:00, Sam Corbett 2:36:31, Paul Barwick 2:37:49, Gene Rand 2:38:42. Lindsay Barwick 3:05:02, Mish Mourits 3:06:56, Katrin Gottschalk 3:10:42, Shannon-Leigh Walker 3:18:48.