A heave of shot putters loom as contenders when Tom Walsh defends his world championship crown on October 5 in Doha.

The New Zealand thrower returns to competition this Sunday morning at the Diamond League meet in Paris after a five-week "reload phase" in the gym.

In four meets across May and June, Walsh threw between 21.76m and a season-best 22.27m, which ranks fifth in the world this year.

However, six of his rivals have also thrown over 22m. Three of those – Luxembourg's Bob Bertemes, Poland's Michal Haratyk and Brazil's Darlan Romani – compete against him at the Stade Charlety this weekend. Fellow competitors Konrad Bukowiecki of Poland and Filip Mihaljevic are also on the cusp with personal bests of 21.97m and 21.84m respectively.

Advertisement

"That shows the depth of men's shot put, which is awesome and makes it more satisfying to win," Walsh told the Herald from Paris.

Remember to add American Ryan Crouser to that competitive mix.

The Rio Olympic champion dispatched a 22.74m effort at Long Beach in April which ranks sixth longest of all-time, one place in front of the 22.67m personal best Walsh delivered in March last year.

Regardless of such threats, a steady season's build-up has given Walsh reason to believe he can defend his world title.

"I've hit some pretty good numbers, probably not quite what I wanted, but down the right track.

"Since then I've done a lot of heavy lifting, and still kept up my throwing distances."

Match that against Walsh's renowned love for competition. He has consistently exceeded expectations since taking bronze at the 2014 world indoor championships in Poland.

"Tom's one of those guys who can be making a joke a minute before he throws, then he turns into a whole different person who is zoned in," Crouser told the Herald in February 2017.

Advertisement

If Walsh wasn't a qualified builder, his mantelpiece would surely sag under the weight of booty captured from Olympic, world championship, Diamond league and Commonwealth Games ports-of-call.

The 27-year-old believes the influx of new throwers has only made his past feats more valuable in the current climate.

"I love the competition, it's not a struggle for me to get up.

"The one thing seniority gives you is experience, finding things when you need to, and knowing how to operate better.

"I've been on the [international] circuit for six years but know so much more than I did a year ago. I have confidence as the current world champion ... and I can win again."

The camaraderie Walsh initially found among the shot put throwing fraternity remains, possibly because few of his colleagues are afraid of a knife and fork.

"We find common ground over a beer and food, which is a good way to catch up.

"There are a few young ones coming through who haven't been on the tour before, so it's a chance to meet new people, but that doesn't stop me wanting to beat them."