Athletics: Tom Walsh update Sep 5

By Tom Walsh

New Zealand's Tom Walsh makes an attempt in the men's shot put final in Rio. Photo / AP
New Zealand's Tom Walsh makes an attempt in the men's shot put final in Rio. Photo / AP

Well, the Olympics have been and gone, and it was a lot of fun. The whole of the NZ team went better than we ever have before with a total of 18 medals - four of them going to the athletics team, which is the best we have done in 40 years, so all up it was a great Games.

I'll wind the clock back a wee bit to start with, as it been a while since you've heard from me. After a great comp in London, I had two more weeks in Athens, Georgia (my base for the past two and a half months) which include one competitive outing. It was structured as a simulation of Rio, so I had a qualifying comp in the morning, and the final at night. It all went to plan, and I finished that night with a best throw of 21.53m, which was pretty encouraging. It was also one of Reese Hoffa's and Adam Nelson's last events - it was awesome to have two legends of the sport to throw with.

I was happy with where I was at coming into Rio. The time in the circle was coming together, and I was getting itchy feet watching the Games from Athens ‐ I was ready to get over there and do my thing.

We arrived in Rio on the 13th, five days before my event. Well, what can i say about Rio - it's an interesting place, huge city and without the specially designated Olympic traffic lanes, it would have taken us forever to get anywhere.

So - the main event! The comp was what we were there for, after all. Qualifying went well, one throw and done, which always was the plan. Automatic qualification was 20.65m, so my 21.03 was comfortable enough. It felt a wee bit safe and short, but it's always good to get in there and do it in one throw. It was also awesome to finally be in the stadium and do what I do best, which is throw. I think I was more nervous for that morning session than the final that night.

Coming around to the night session, I was feeling good - I had some really good warm‐up throws, so I knew I was ready to rock and roll. The sequence of throws went like this:
20.54 - 21.20 - foul - 20.74 - 21.36 - 21.25

In the end, my timing was a wee bit off and I couldn't find the timing and smoothness that I had in the work up throws, but I guess that may just have some thing to do with it being the Olympics..... But looking back now, I'm pretty happy with the way I got through it all, and I came away with a bronze medal at my first Olympic Games. That's not bad when you think about it.

So now it's back to the circuit - I had a Diamond League race to try and win. It started really well in Paris - I picked up the win there, throwing 22m for the first time and sneaking the win over the Olympic gold medallist by 1cm. More importantly, Joe Kovacs only finished 8th, which means I was now four points ahead of him with just the final in Zurich to go.

I flew to Warsaw the next day to compete in Tomas Majewski's final competition - a fitting tribute to a double Olympic champion, and a guy who has helped me out a lot too. And I picked up another win, which was good.

On to the Diamond League final in Zurich - it was a simple equation really, I just needed to finish ahead of Joe to win the League. I knew I'd have to get out to at least 21.50‐22m, because Joe would go better than he had in Paris. I had a much needed rest for a few days after Warsaw, and put together a really good series of throws. The best was a PB in the third round of 22.20m, which was good enough to win the comp and secure the Diamond League race. Crouser & Kovacs were both still throwing really well, so I had to pull out a big one to win. That PB effort was a really nice throw, full & free and really got the power through the shot - as soon as it left my hand I knew it was big, but I didnt know how big!

Now I'm really looking forward to getting home - I've just got one more comp, which is the IAAF World Challenge in Zagreb. It's been a long and successful four months, I really appreciate all the support from home and am looking forward to catching up with everyone again when I'm back.

- NZ Herald

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