He might sit atop of the world rankings but Kiwi shot put star Tom Walsh has been training hard over the holiday season to ensure he stays ahead of the competition in 2019.

The 26-year-old finished the year as the world's best after hurling a mammoth 22.67 metres in Auckland last March, to smash his personal best and set a new national record with the biggest throw in the sport since 2003.

The Timaru athlete also won the indoor title and Diamond League before taking gold at the Commonwealth Games, but has been flogging himself over the summer to ensure he can maintain his strong form.

"[That was] an early Christmas present for me and hopefully I'll retain that (ranking) this year," Walsh told Radio Sport.

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"It was quite cool and that's one of the things I wanted to do in my career and now I've just got to do it a few more times.

"It's a pretty important part of my offseason through this period, so I was in the gym four or five days a week and throwing my normal amount, so there wasn't much of a break for me over the last three weeks."

Walsh is aiming to reinforce his status at the Nationals in Christchurch in March, before heading to the US in preparation for the Doha World Championships in October.

"That's the next big one on the agenda," he said.

"I'm going to go there to retain my title that I won two years ago in London and I don't like giving things up so that's definitely the plan and everything is working towards that.

"Every comp during the year generally we have something to work on and it's going towards the bigger picture of being in the best body shape and mental shape by early October."

Having reached the pinnacle of his sport Walsh is determined to stay there and continue to improve his technique and form.

"You see a lot of people plateau in their sporting career in particular around this age and that's something that me and the team don't want to do."

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Reducing the length of some of his training sessions has helped replicate the intensity of throwing in competition.

"It's just about doing little things to keep you on your toes. For example, rather than having a 12 throw training session where you can bugger up one or two throws, have a four throw training session, so each one of those throws is just as important and you know if you stuff up one you've only got three good ones."

Tom Walsh is eyeing gold at the World Championships in Doha in October. Photo / Photosport
Tom Walsh is eyeing gold at the World Championships in Doha in October. Photo / Photosport

Keeping things fun is also a priority and winning some friendly side bets with his training staff and companions also helps ward off any hint of complacency.

"We've always talked about trying to keep the enjoyment in training by playing little games and having wee bets. [Coach Dale Stevenson] actually had to grow mutton chops last year. I've had to get a tattoo on me.

"But Ryan Valentine is one of the young throwers coming up, he trains with me a bit and it was just a training throwing comp.

"I get to slap him in the face twice whenever I want, so that's going to be very enjoyable too."