Olympic champion Ryan Crouser and New Zealand's Rio bronze medallist Tom Walsh served up a shot put feast in the Auckland Track Challenge on the North Shore today.
American Crouser was outstanding, winning the six-throw event with a best of 22.15 metres in both of his last two throws. That set a New Zealand allcomers record. Four times the tall Crouser threw over 22m.
Walsh was second, with a best of 21.80 with his fourth throw, which was the third time today he eclipsed the old New Zealand residents record of 21.46m he had set in Christchurch last weekend.
With the crowd up close beside the circle, and the atmosphere top class, it was the best shot put event ever seen in New Zealand.
Walsh had two no throws at the end, but was quietly sure one of them was ''pretty close to that 22".
His personal best is 22.21m, set in Zagreb late last year.
''I love comps like this, the crowd being so close, getting us pumped up," Walsh said.
And he's sure the world record of 23.12m set by American Randy Barnes set in 1990 is on its way out.
''It's going this year, next year or the year after. It's a matter of time before he (Crouser), me or Joe (American Kovacs) catch onto one."
Walsh laughed that he should have arranged an easier field - ''I'd rather try really hard to win than get an easy one."
Walsh believes today's effort helps set his season up really well.
''It's amazing to throw 21.80m at this time of the year and have a really consistent series. It's pretty good mate," he added.
Crouser was chuffed with his effort, a string of throws of 21.71m, 22.03m, 21.43m, 22.08m, 22.15m and 21.15m again.
''I kind of surprised myself last week in Christchurch," Crouser said of his winning performance at the Big Shot event.
''I was just hoping to match Christchurch here and manage to be really consistent.
''This is probably my most consistent meet outside of the Olympics so I'm really happy where I'm at."
North Shore Olympian Jacko Gill, throwing on his own track, took third place with a best effort of 20.92m, which he put out with his first throw. His personal best is 21.01m but could not quite get over the 21m mark.
Both Walsh and Gill will be at the national championships from March 17-19 in Hamilton.