World women's champion Valerie Adams and world junior men's champion Jacko Gill will compete against each another in the shot put in a fascinating twist to tomorrow night's international athletics meeting at Christ's College in Christchurch.
The shot put competition is for all-comers with men, women and juniors using the appropriate weights for their respective grades.
Seventeen-year-old Gill had initially planned to compete only in the discus. Even though he doesn't train specifically for the event, he's ranked No 5 in the world in his age group.
But with no international competition for Adams and Timaru strongman Tom Walsh looking her main competition, the sensational teenager confirmed yesterday he will also compete in the shot. It creates an intriguing match-up between one established world champion and another on a spectacular rise.
Adams, starting her build-up to the Olympics at this meet, said it would bring something different for the crowd: "But I'll approach it the same as I approach every other competition, and do my own job," she said. "Track and field is one of those sports where you are best to focus on yourself."
The Olympic and world champion has a best of 21.24m with the women's 4kg shot. Gill has thrown 24.45m with the 5kg shot and 20.38m with the open men's 7.26kg shot.
Adams is also preparing for the world indoor championships in Istanbul in mid-March and has been able to do it with coach Jean-Pierre Egger by her side. Adams spent months in Switzerland with Egger last year but Egger, the former Olympic shot putter, has come out to New Zealand for the first time and will spend two months here as Adams completes the Australasian track and field season.
"It's an important phase I'm in at the moment," she said. "On Saturday I'm looking to open my season well, and I'm feeling very good with where I need to be at this time of year.
"It's an exciting meet and I couldn't think of a better way to begin my 2012 year. It will be nice to be there with the people of Christchurch after the tough time they've all had."
Olympic silver medallist Nick Willis is another competing in Christchurch, and he will step back in time to run the track feature, a handicap two-mile race on the grass 50 years after Peter Snell set world 800m and half mile records, also on grass, not far away at Lancaster Park.
Lining up against him will be his Michigan-based training partners Will Leer and Brandon Bethke (US) and Lee Emmanuel (UK), as well as another American Patrick Tarpy and Kiwis Brett Tingay, Alex Parlane, Andrew Davidson and Caden Shields.
"I never trained on a synthetic track until I went to the States, I can't wait to get the chance to run in a professional meet on grass," Willis said.