Athletics: Tom Walsh World Indoor Champs blog

By Tom Walsh

Tom Walsh celebrates winning gold during the IAAF World Indoor Championships. Photo / Getty Images
Tom Walsh celebrates winning gold during the IAAF World Indoor Championships. Photo / Getty Images

It is the day after my gold medal-winning victory at the World Indoor Championships and let me tell you it is a fantastic feeling to tap out those words out on the keyboard.

I've been waiting for this day for a wee while and to stand on the podium and see the New Zealand flag sent a shiver down my spine - it has definitely been worth the wait for my first major international title.

Leading into Portland I knew my preparations - apart from a little blip with a minor hip injury - had gone well and I was pleased to throw 20.91m in Waitakere, which was 92cm further than I'd ever thrown for a season opener before. Then to follow it up with a 21.11m effort to beat Jacko and take the national title in Dunedin and the next day - despite the travel - throw 20.87m in Melbourne was pleasing.

Yet as satisfied as I was with my first three competitions of the season, I was probably competing a little with the handbrake on. It wasn't as if I was consciously holding back, I just wasn't free and really unleashing the shot - which is sometimes the most challenging part of throwing.

Since Melbourne my training has continued to progress nicely and I have to pay a big compliment to my coaching team of Dale Stevenson and Angus Ross, who have put together an impressive training schedule which has allowed me to peak to perfection.

In training I'd been throwing at or around the mid to high 21m range, so I knew I was in good of shape and my programme has allowed me to feel fresh and able to express myself in Portland.

Since I arrived I have had a great feel for Portland and the indoor arena here. As I have said in the past, I'm a big fan of indoor athletics. Last night the crowd really got behind the shot and the spectators appeared so close to the action, it almost seems as if they were on the sector line.

Another great element to the night was the way we were introduced to the crowd by running down a chute into the arena. I believe athletics needs to entertain - and although a World Championships needs to be a serious competition - the change in the approach to the presentation of the athletes was welcome.

Maybe a few nerves crept in as I fired the shot out to 20.38m in round one, but after I got that one out of the way and took the hand brake off the outcome took good care of itself.

I was delighted with my second round throw of 21.60m (an indoor Oceania record) because I knew it would put the pressure on my rivals. Yet what filled me with even greater belief was I knew that there was more in the tank and I all I needed to do was focus on the processes and repeat what I had been doing in training.

I was really pleased with my consistency as I went 21.40m in round three and then out to 21.64m in round four - an improvement on my area record and 2cm further than I'd ever thrown outdoors. My penultimate throw then went out to 21.49m before hitting 21.78m for a world lead and Oceania record and a distance some 16cm further than my old PB (set in Zagreb last year) in the final round.

It was a near perfect competition for me and the only frustration was I fell just 2cm short of my winning my bet with my coach, Dale because we agreed that should I throw a distance of 21.80m or above he would have to grow a handlebar moustache between now and the Rio Olympics. Maybe, I should have got the steel tape a bit floppier when measuring the distance!

The organisers tried a new approach to the medal presentation which took place outside of the stadium at the Pioneer Courthouse Square - a couple of minutes from the meet hotel. With about 2000 to 3000 people packed in the square it made for a pretty cool setting. It was a very proud moment for me.

Straight after the competition I rang my girlfriend, Dana, my mother and father, my old coach, Ian Baird and John Quinn, my sports psychologist. As you can imagine they were all really happy for me, and that all the hard work my team and I had put in had come to fruition.

Then last night I celebrated with a couple of beers with Dale, Scott Goodman (Athletics NZ High Performance manager) and my agent, Andrew Stubbs.

It was definitely a sweet feeling to win gold and it fills me with confidence to know I can throw well in the heat of a major competition. It is a great start to the year and sets me up well for the Diamond League campaign and, of course, the big competition later this year in Rio.


- NZ Herald

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