The best assembly of shot put talent ever seen in New Zealand certainly didn't disappoint, with Kiwi Tom Walsh and Olympic champion Ryan Crouser trading records in Christchurch today.

Crouser emerged triumphant at the Big Shot event but not before Walsh made him work for the win, setting the stage for this weekend's rematch at the Auckland Track Challenge.

Having both featured on the podium at the Rio Olympics, the pair added another page to their budding rivalry, both starting the season much stronger than they had anticipated.

Moments after Walsh managed a throw of 21.46 metres in the second round to set the New Zealand all-comers' record, Crouser sent one out to 22.05m to seize both that title and the competition.


"That surprised me a little bit," the American said of his season-opening distance. "I was feeling pretty good and Tom opened up well early, so he kind of pushed me me to step up and make a big throw.

"I've seen Tom in training and thrown against him a bunch of times, and he's an unbelievable competitor. Whenever I have a good throw, he seems to come back a beat me by a little bit. So he definitely made me throw my best today."

Walsh, the bronze medallist in Rio, was content with his efforts and the New Zealand residents' record, considering he struggled with timing and recorded fouls on three of his six attempts.

"Any day you throw over 21 is a good day - and Ryan Crouser had a cracking day," Walsh said. "I knew Ryan was in very good shape. So if I was allowed to bet on the competition, I would have bet on him. He was in great nick earlier in the week, so I knew I was going to have to throw high-21s to really push him."

After winning last year in Christchurch, Jacko Gill finished third with an effort of 20.69m, edging out Australian Damien Birkenhead. The transtasman pair meant the event was graced by four Olympic finalists - along with two-time world indoor champion Ryan Whiting of the United States - a level of competition that left Crouser impressed.

"You don't see many higher quality fields than what we had here today," he said. "So any time you can come down early in the year and get a good victory is always a good start."

Crouser will be looking to repeat that effort when he squares off against Walsh at the Millennium Stadium on Sunday, though the Kiwi had formulated a mid-week plan to turn the tables.

"We've got a bit of pig hunting," Walsh said. "We might just leave him in the bush in Marlborough somewhere and that will be fine."