Two years ago, Tom Walsh propelled himself on to the international shot put scene with a last round effort of 21.26m at the world indoor championships in Poland.

That heave earned him bronze. He will contest the same event again tomorrow in Portland, Oregon, alongside fellow Kiwi Jacko Gill.

Generally a relaxed character, Walsh has switched into full competitive mode for this event to replicate the build-up he will use at his maiden Olympic Games.

That means a break from media activity two days before an event. It is seen as part of his maturing process as a professional. Previously he would conduct media interviews liberally as he adapted to the limelight that comes with success.


Walsh could be classified as a favourite to win gold tomorrow, in the absence of Joe Kovacs, David Storl, O'Dayne Richards and Christian Cantwell, the four men who put further than him outdoors last year. However, four others - Kurt Roberts, Michal Haratyk, Tim Nedow and Tomas Stanek - have done better indoors than him this season.

Walsh accepts he has come full circle from Poland.

"That was my first breakthrough performance. Hopefully I can get things rolling at this one," he said. "There's no reason I can't throw well."

Walsh has overcome the hip injury which curtailed his progress earlier this year.

"A championship format is different, there's a lot on the line," his coach Dale Stevenson said. "[For instance] the All Blacks can play as many tests as they want, but until you get to the World Cup, they don't count for much. For us this year, it's not about going [to Rio] to get the tracksuit and coming home."

No New Zealand man has earned an Olympic shot put medal - Les Mills finished seventh at Tokyo in 1964 - and Walsh was the first Kiwi male to earn a medal in 15 editions of the world indoor championships.

The 24-year-old finished fourth at the world outdoor championships in 2015 but beat every major international competitor across the season. He also became the first New Zealand man to win a Diamond League meet, in Brussels, and set a 21.62m personal best in Zagreb.

Last year, Walsh stated one of his biggest challenges before heading overseas was "trying to stay like a normal Kiwi bloke". He had gone from a builder who competed for enjoyment, to being a thrower who enjoyed building.

This year, he will spend further time away from his Christchurch home with a decent stint in the United States. He leaves for Rio from the University of Georgia in Athens, home to former world champion Reese Hoffa. He will also train with fellow American throwers Ryan Whiting and Jordan Clarke.