The national shot put record-holder is putting his day job on hold while he throws his weight into his sport.

Shot putter Tom Walsh's biggest challenge when he heads overseas tomorrow for this year's campaign is "trying to stay like a normal Kiwi bloke".

In career terms, the 2015 journey represents a tectonic shift from where his track and field prospects sat before March 7 last year, when he recorded 21.26m in Poland to become the first New Zealand male to earn a medal (bronze) at a world indoor championships.

Remarkably, the meet was Walsh's first senior international competition and his first indoors. To add further perspective, he squeezed Poland's Tomasz Majewski, a double Olympic gold medallist, into fourth.

From a builder who threw for enjoyment, Walsh became a thrower who enjoys building, at least when he returns to work for his loyal employers (and sponsors) Mike Greer Homes. Walsh continued with the firm three days a week over summer, helping with the Christchurch rebuild.


He will spend the Northern Hemisphere summer competing at Diamond League meets on both sides of the Atlantic, starting with the Prefontaine Classic in Oregon on May 29.

Walsh used to send his CV to event organisers in the hope of securing an invite. Now, especially after setting a national record of 21.37m in Melbourne last month, it's a case of their people wanting to talk to his people. That distance is the second-longest in the world this year.

"I'm try to stay like a normal Kiwi bloke, which people say I'm not," Walsh said.

"Travelling the world throwing the shot isn't normal, I suppose, but hopefully I'm grounded.

"A few more people know me and want me to compete at more meets, so I have to turn people down rather than knocking on the door. I've never been able to plan ahead as much."

Walsh said the scenario differed to the first time he went to Europe.

"I used to say, 'What comps can I do? Which ones will pay? Where are the good throwers?' There were a lot of emails, asking organisers about prize money, then you'd work out flight costs to see if it was worth it.

"I'm lucky now because the Diamond League pay for most of your stuff. It's taken a while to get there but it's a good place, that's for sure."


Exceeding expectations - Walsh has improved 2.04m since June 2012 - and the lure of Olympic glory have been catalysts towards increasing his role in the sport. Another ingredient has been the camaraderie with athletes such as Americans Ryan Whiting, who competed in New Zealand last summer, and Reese Hoffa, who suggested Walsh use the German city of Mannheim as his base.

"I spent two awesome seasons at [Val Adams' Swiss base] Magglingen where I will definitely be back at some point. However, I needed to look elsewhere. I've thrown before in Mannheim's great facilities. It's just an hour from the Frankfurt airport and a guy I met on the tour sorted out the accommodation and training costs on my behalf."

Walsh will travel abroad with Athletics New Zealand's high performance throws co-ordinator and former Australian Olympic shot putter Dale Stevenson. They play plenty of golf together in their downtime.

Stevenson, 27, began his role in October and will work in conjunction with Walsh's Timaru-based coach Ian Baird and High Performance Sport New Zealand physiologist Angus Ross.

A secondary industry has emerged with Walsh's newly-earned fame.

"A lot of people want you to come to a Saturday competition and talk for five minutes. You've got to plan your time well. The main point for me is that training comes first. If it cuts into that, it's not for me.

"I spoke at the sports awards for my old school Timaru Boys' High School, then Roncalli College, and the Mid-Canterbury and Temuka sports awards.

"Unfortunately, going to Fairlie to throw a gumboot to help the drought didn't work out timing-wise."

Walsh enjoys public speaking - "the only thing I passed in English" - because it's not affected by the dyslexia he's had since childhood.

"I can't read stuff off paper that fast. I went through school with teacher aides but, as a result, my memory's quite good. I write out the speeches, read them 10-15 times, then I know most of it well enough to run my finger along each line when I need to."

At present, Walsh's actions with the 7.26kg ball of iron are speaking equally loud and clear.