Athletics: Long-standing world records on the horizon

By David Leggat

Tom Walsh is off to the Prefontaine Classic in late May before heading to Europe. Photo / Photosport
Tom Walsh is off to the Prefontaine Classic in late May before heading to Europe. Photo / Photosport

One of athletics' longest-standing and most contentious world records will fall in the next couple of years.

The two men best placed to lower the boom on the men's shot put mark both reckon Randy Barnes' 23.12m mark of 1990 is due to tumble.

Olympic champion Ryan Crouser and New Zealand's Rio bronze medallist and Diamond League champion Tom Walsh will lead what shapes as a fascinating year of shot putting and Barnes' drug-tainted mark is on their horizon.

American Barnes set the world record in 1990, but later that year was banned for 27 months after testing positive to anabolic steroids.

He returned to win the Olympic gold medal at Atlanta in 1996 only to be banned for life two years later after testing positive to androtenedione, a banned substance.

Crouser won the Auckland Track Challenge yesterday with a quality series of throws capped by two consecutive heaves of 22.15m, setting the New Zealand allcomers record.
Walsh was the only thrower to really challenge Crouser, and he managed a 21.80m to set a fresh New Zealand residents' record. He beat the old mark with four successive throws yesterday.

Afterwards both spoke of the world mark.

''Before 2020 I'm sure the record will fall," Crouser said.

''Tom had throws in the high 21s, I was just digging a hole at 22 (metres) so that, for February is unbelievable.

''Last year I was throwing about 21m at this point, so I think it's reasonable I could add a metre on what I did here.

''I don't know if anyone's opened in the past the way we have this year. There's not just one guy trying to move it and that definitely makes it competitive.

''(I believe) 23m is definitely possible this year."

Crouser admitted having a strong rivalry with Walsh, and stocky American Joe Kovacs, the Rio silver medallist last year, ''sharpens the steel in a way".

''That rivalry definitely drives me to train harder.

''(Tom and I) are both super competitive, nobody likes to lose and we bust our butts in the gym. To have a group of guys pushing towards a world record makes it a loto more reasonable to get it."

Walsh concurred.

''It's going this year, next year or the year after. It's a matter of time before he (Crouser), me or Joe catch onto one."

Walsh believes yesterday'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.

Walsh is off to the Prefontaine Classic in late May before heading to Europe, and ultimately the world championships, which are in London in August.

The shot put has the potential to be among the most fascinating athletic events this year. The stall was set out yesterday by Crouser and Walsh.

- NZ Herald

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