As our athletes are about to start the summer season for many northern hemisphere athletes the World Championships in Doha starting on Friday marks the end of a long summer with the major championships considerably later than usual because of the venue.
Southern hemisphere athletes have had longer preparation than in most years when Olympics and World Championships have been placed earlier in the year. I am pleased that the championships are in school holiday time as I can record and watch events in day time.
Sadly, as it is only on Sky many young athletes will not see the action, however it might be easier to access than the current Rugby World Cup.
New Zealand will be represented in Doha by 13 athletes, seven males and six females with a good mixture of youth and experience. There is also a good mix of event disciplines with four throwers, two young sprinters, two marathon runners, two race walkers, a high jumper, a track distance runner and a 400-metre hurdler.
It is unfortunate that two of our Rio Olympic medal winners will not be competing. Eliza McCartney, who has had an injury-plagued year which started so promisingly with a world class vault in Hastings in January, withdrew from the team and will concentrate on preparing for the Tokyo Olympics next year as will evergreen Nick Willis, who turned down a late invitation to compete in Doha.
Tom Walsh will defend his world title and is clearly in good form having retained his IAAF Diamond League title once again proving what an outstanding competitor he is. The shot has become extremely competitive with a large group of 22-metre performers, any one whom could win.
Walsh, as proven at Diamond League, Olympics and world outdoor and indoor championships, is big time competitor. He will have New Zealand company in Doha with Jacko Gill also competing.
Twenty-four-year-old Gill, who is a former World Youth and Junior Champion and has been in the final at two World Championships and at the Rio Olympics, is coming into good form. In the women's shot Maddison Wesche, still only 20, has like Gill won a World Junior (2018) and will gain valuable experience in Doha.
It is good to see two young sprinters given the opportunity to compete in Doha.
Eighteen-year-old Edward Osei-Nketia made national headlines after returning to New Zealand following his outstanding Australian Senior title earlier in the year.
He is the son of the New Zealand 100m record holder Gus Nketia and is one of the fastest 18-year-olds in the world with Doha providing a great learning experience and stepping stone for future success.
Also, in the team is 22-year-old Zoe Hobbs who made a significant breakthrough in the New Zealand summer. Hobbs, originally from Taranaki and now in Auckland, is no stranger to Cooks Gardens.
At the Universiade in Naples in July Hobbs ran in both the 100m and 200m finals and was in the bronze medal winning 4x100 team. The experience in Doha will be invaluable.
There is one young athlete in Whanganui who will be especially interested in the race walks which feature two of our more experienced team members.
Quentin Rew (35) was 9th at the World Race Walking Championships and a highly creditable 12th at both the last Olympics and World Championships, and Alana Barber (32) who made a 15-place improvement from the Olympics in finishing 20th at the World Race Walk Championships.
Both spent time talking to promising young Whanganui race walker Lucas Martin in Christchurch following Martin's bronze medal debut in the 10,000m track walk following his gold over 3000 metres in the under 20 championship at the age of 14. Experienced athletes giving time to younger athletes is an important part of the sport and such mentoring benefits our young athletes.
I look forward to some exciting action from Doha in the week ahead and also look forward to our own season which I will preview next week. I hope that the support given by experienced athletes like Rew and Barber will be mirrored within our own club.
We have some outstanding young athletes who even at 17-years-old can give support to promising younger athletes in the manner in which many older athletes help at children's athletics and how New Zealand under 18 Road Race Champion and record holder Andres Hernandez helped young Oliver Jones with his warm up before last week's Intermediate Schools Cross Country.