Zoe Hobbs has qualified for the Paris Olympics with a time of 10.96 seconds to become the first New Zealand female sprinter to achieve the feat in nearly 50 years.
The last time New Zealand was represented at the Olympics by a female sprinter was at the 1976 Amsterdam Games, where Sue Jowett competed in the 100m.
Last Friday, Hobbs opened up her European season at the Lausanne Diamond League in a time of 11.20 secs.
She then recorded a time of 10.96 in the heats at the World Athletics Continental Tour Challenger in Switzerland overnight to secure her place in Paris.
The Kiwi sprinter – who only needed to stop the clock under 11.07 seconds to achieve automatic qualification for the Olympics – not only won her race, she also recorded a new personal best, as well as a new national and area record.
The 26-year-old was not expecting to run so quick.
“When I saw the time come up I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t think I would run that time, especially given the conditions. It was 15 degrees at the time of that race with a 20 minute delay leading into the start. The wind was all over the shop with head and tail winds,” Hobbs said.
“I didn’t think I would run a PB in the heat at all. I thought maybe a chance of doing the qualifier, but definitely not a PB. It was a bit of a shock when I saw what the time was.”
Hobbs will now be focusing on her lead up to the World Track and Field Championships in Budapest in August.
“I’m absolutely stoked to have done the Qualifier time early. It takes a massive weight off my shoulders and makes a big difference leading into the rest of the season. I don’t have to chase the time now. I can focus on what I need to in the lead up to the World Champs.”
Reflecting on the moment, Hobbs noted: “I’ve got an incredible support team around me and I’m super grateful for everything they’ve put in to help get me to where I am now. I’m particularly thankful for my family and my coach James Mortimer.”
Hobbs went on to win the final this morning with a time of 11.13.
Elsewhere, New Zealand high jumper Hamish Kerr won his event at the Diamond League meeting in Stockholm.
Kerr had a best height of 2.24 metres to win by 4cm from Belgian Thomas Carmoy.
At the same meeting, Geordie Beamish ran a personal best 8:17.63, to finish fourth in the 3000m steeplechase.