As Tina Hakeai was confirming herself as New Zealand's brightest field athlete prospect, another longer standing one was hinting her time might be up.

Hakeai and high jumper Sarah Cowley crossed each other's path after their events finished at Hampden Park yesterday and swapped a big embrace.

For Cowley, there was a ninth placing with a best leap of 1.86m, below her best.

The 30-year-old, who switched from heptathlon to high jump to seek a change in fortunes, was misty-eyed and made plain she's got some hard thinking ahead.


She would have finished fourth if she had managed to match her personal best of 1.91m. Instead, retirement could be looming.

"I don't know if this is my last jump. All I know is it's really been a privilege," she said.

Hakeai is at the other extreme, a gifted 20-year-old who has her sights set on clipping the record marks of the woman she grew up admiring, former world champion Beatrice Faumuina.

The younger woman recently said when she was growing up she wanted to be like Faumuina - "but now I want to beat her".

Hakeai came into the event ranked third. Australian Dani Samuels was a strong favourite and so it proved.

Hakeai led the first round with her opening effort, 57.94m before Samuels and then England's Jade Lally and Indian Seema Punia went past her.

Three no-throws didn't help before her best effort of 58.67m ensured fourth.

The biggest crowd Hakeai had thrown in front of before was at the world junior championship - "like 1000 [people]. So it was nerve-wracking but I am going to take this as a learning process.

"I was nervous as hell. When I grabbed the discus, my hand was shaking. I thought if I hold my breath the shakes will stop but they didn't."

She tried to put to use the advice of roommate and champion shot putter Valerie Adams.

"She told me the crowd was going to be crazy, just try not to try too hard. She told me to do what I do in training, leave it all out on the field. Don't try to smash it because it will go wrong," Hakeai said.

It could be argued she should have won bronze but that misses the point. This was the biggest event of her life. She has a shy personality, no family made the journey - "it was pretty hard, but I know they support me back home and, without them, I wouldn't be here today" - and this has been an eye-widening experience. She'll be the better for it.

Hakeai is hoping for three weeks off before returning to training. The world championships in Beijing next year are in her sights.

When someone pointed out the Rio Olympics are only two years away, Hakeai steered clear. "Baby steps," she grinned.

But it's probably not long before the steps will be giant ones.