To understand how good Tom Walsh's bronze medal in the world indoor championships was, just look at the name of the athlete he beat into fourth place yesterday.

Poland's Tomasz Majewski has what you might call credentials in this event. He is a double Olympic gold medallist, becoming the only man for over 50 years to win back-to-back Olympic titles when he won at London in 2012, following on from his win in Beijing in 2008. The 32-year-old is enormous - 2.04m and 142kg.

But he could manage only fourth with 21.04m, well short of his best (21.95m) and of his two Olympic gold throws (21.51m in Beijing and 21.89m in London) and 22cm behind 22-year-old Walsh's medal-winning effort of 21.26m.

Walsh, meanwhile, built up to a real crescendo in this event after entering ranked 17th of 21 competitors in the world indoor championships in Poland.


He qualified sixth, starting with 20.18m, then 20.08m to lie eighth after the second round. He then produced 20.41 with his third attempt to lift two places. He began nervously in the final with two no throws before finding his rhythm and recording 20.12m, 20.46m, 20.88m and finally 21.26m to claim bronze, breaking his New Zealand record by a whopping 1.14m.

If Majewski does not have as good a record indoors and at world championships as he does at Olympics, that doesn't lessen Walsh's achievement - he left some other big shot put names in the dust as well. Argentina's German Lauro (ranked sixth in the world), Bulgaria's Georgi Ivanov (eighth), Russia's Alexander Lesnoy (14th) and South Africa's Orazio Cremona (18th) all finished behind 22-year-old Walsh.

"I really can't believe it," he told Andrew Alderson from Poland yesterday. "Words can't express what I am thinking; I can't express what I have done but I am sure it will sink in over the next few days. To do it on the last round throw was just amazing."

As for those who finished ahead of Walsh, US shot putter and world No 1 Ryan Whiting retained his world indoor title in thrilling style in Sopot. In a gripping contest, Whiting managed a best of 22.05m on his fourth attempt to finish 26cm ahead of Germany's two-time outdoor champion David Storl, the early leader and 23-year-old shot put star who has won two world titles and the Olympic silver medal, behind Majewski, in 2012. He has a best of 21.88m.

"I came in as favourite and I'm glad I could execute because I didn't last summer in Moscow [when he won silver behind Storl]," said the 27-year-old Whiting.

Talking about good steps, so was Walsh's decision to train with fellow shot putter Valerie Adams and her coach Jean-Pierre Egger in Switzerland before the world championships. Adams (due to defend her world indoors title at Sopot just before 7am NZT today) invited Walsh there.

"JP did give me a bit of fine tuning and it was good to work with a two-time Olympic champion and see how she goes about things and how she focuses - but really all the hard work was done with my technical coach, Ian Baird; there's been a lot of hard work the last four years."

Adams' manager Nick Cowan said yesterday: "Tom has built really well towards this and he and Ian have done a great job - and 21.26m is world-class. However, I also have to say that I think it is no coincidence that he came out with a big throw like that. I don't know that many people in New Zealand realise what an asset we have in Jean-Pierre."