Shot putter Tom Walsh's best competitive asset is composure at the world's most prestigious athletics meets.

Walsh first came to prominence on March 7, 2014, in Poland as the first New Zealand male to earn a medal at a world indoor championships.

The 25-year-old has regularly delivered Kiwi male precedents since.

He won the world indoor championship in March 2016; earned a bronze medal at the Rio Olympics; won a Diamond League meet in September 2015; won the 2016
Diamond League season crown; and extended his New Zealand record to 22.21m last September.


Walsh came within 11cm of a medal at the 2015 world outdoor championships, heaving the shot 21.58m to finish fourth.

He can rectify that gap in the CV next weekend in London.

By his own admission, this season has delivered a better return than last, but his performances have been overshadowed by the feats of American rival and friend Ryan Crouser who competed against Walsh in New Zealand during February.

Walsh has been consistently excellent with six puts over 21.50m, including his 22.04m best on July 21.

However, Crouser has been consistently exceptional with seven of the year's top nine puts, all over 22m. Countryman Joe Kovacs has the other two marks.

Crouser's 22.65m best, set at Sacramento in June, is the furthest the 7.26kg sphere has been heaved since Kevin Toth's 22.67m in April 2003 and, before him, Randy Barnes' world record-breaking spree in May 1990 in which he recorded 23.12m and 23.10m in a week. Both Barnes and Toth were banned for using illegal substances during their careers.

"The funny thing is, if Ryan wasn't having the best season anyone's ever had by a long way, my season would be talked about in the same ilk as Christian Cantwell in 2010 [seven of the best 10 puts, all 21.87m or better] or Ryan Whiting in 2013 [seven of the best 10 puts, all 21.51m or better]," Walsh said.

"The bar's been lifted, but that's good for the sport because more people are interested. Not only is Ryan throwing well, but the depth this year is crazy. Until Lausanne [Diamond League on July 6] I was ranked sixth in the world and I'd thrown 21.80m. I'd hate to know the last season that was ranked sixth. Men's shot put is just going off."
Walsh said Crouser's efforts are driving everyone else.


"I'm not sure if 'chasing' is the right word with Ryan, because if you try to beat him at his game you'll probably forget about your own. Since the Prefontaine [Diamond League] meet, I was based in Athens, Georgia, for a couple of months. Training-wise the throwing has been good. I'm at a tough stage [in the build-up] because I'm moving a lot better in the circle, but because I'm fresh with extra horsepower I'm not quite lining the ball up. This is where you've got to be patient. All it takes is one throw to get the right feeling and you remember 'oh, that's how you do it'."

Walsh might go full-time next year, putting his beloved building career on hold.
"With the commitment involved, I'm almost at the stage where the building's going to take more of a back seat."

Walsh enjoyed a seminal moment in 2015, beating every major competitor at some point in the season.

"I feel like I belong," he said at the time. "Two years ago, I thought 'these guys are gods'. Last year, it was 'how the hell am I here?' This year, they're starting to respect me and believe I'm a threat."

In 2017, it might be time for Walsh to set another precedent.

Tom Walsh's firsts for New Zealand male athletes
● Best shot put, 22.21m Zagreb, September 2016.
● First to earn an indoor world championship medal, March 2014.
● First to win an indoor world championship, March 2016.
● First to earn an Olympic field event medal, August 2016.
● First to win a Diamond League meet, September 2015.
● First to win a Diamond League season title, 2016.