Tom Walsh is preparing for a range of shot put challenges this year, and there's no doubt he'll be a marked man. An Olympic medal and Diamond League crowns will do that.

The Christchurch thrower is off to the United States next weekend, with retaining his Diamond League crown, pressing hard for the world championship and inching ever closer to the world record on his agenda.

First, though, he needs to shake off a niggling injury to his left, or leading shoulder. By his estimation, Walsh, third at the Rio Olympics, is training at about 95 per cent, but it's a nuisance issue which needs to be fixed.

So he's been laying off his job on Christchurch building sites.


"It's just the overhead stuff I can't do at the moment. I can do it, but it just gets sore the next day," Walsh said. "We're thinking with building, meaning a lot of overhead work, we'd steer clear of that."

In February, Walsh and some of his chums, including Olympic champion Ryan Crouser, competed in the Big Shot event in Christchurch, then the Auckland Track Challenge at the Millennium Institute a week later. The latter was a cracking spectacle, with fans getting up close as Walsh, fellow Kiwi Jacko Gill, Crouser and a handful of others engaged in good-natured, spirited competition.

"We need those competitions in New Zealand. It's something different for athletics and we need to try and make it more enjoyable," Walsh said.

He recorded mid-21m at the nationals but the shoulder and a technical issue have caused problems.

"I wasn't really going through the shot. I was coming round off the shot, when you need all the power going through it. That's been a big focus since and it seems to be working."

The shoulder pain doesn't affect the throwing, but doesn't help with distance and that is Walsh's currency.

He will start off at the Tucson Elite event at Arizona University and train with American rival and world silver medallist Ryan Whiting, then head to the Prefontaine Classic, the first round of the Diamond League.

There are five shot putting Diamond League meets and Walsh is eyeing four - Oregon, Lausanne, Birmingham and Brussels, skipping Rabat in Morocco.

The world championships are in August in London, where Crouser is shaping as the man to beat.

There's a handful of other events Walsh is hoping to attend before the worlds, on both sides of the Atlantic. He set his personal best, 22.21m, at Zagreb last year and is keen to return, if the timing is right.

Walsh acknowledged Crouser is the guy to beat but relishes the state of the sport, where Whiting, at 30, is the oldest of a group heading towards their prime. The effect is that Crouser, Walsh, German David Storhl, 26 and already a two-time world champion, Rio silver medallist Joe Kovacs, American Darrell Hill, 23, and Pole Konrad Bukowiecki, just 20, have years of duelling ahead of them.

Walsh believes the group will help spur each other on towards the world mark of 23.12m set by American Randy Barnes in 1990. Barnes shortly after copped a 27-month ban for doping and was later barred for life.

"Every day that goes by is one day closer to it not being the world record," is Walsh's rationale. "It's a very young field and this group of guys, we all believe someone is going to break it. It just depends who.

"Probably in the past, guys thought it wasn't possible and as soon as you think that, it's almost over already."

Crouser is leading the field.

"He's throwing ridiculously well this year. I'd have to throw close to 22m to knock him off. Beating him is the big one," Walsh said.

"That 23m, if I line one up this year, it could be close. But that's one of those throws where you need everything to go in your favour."