Field events are often viewed as the poor cousin in track and field, with track events so often taking the limelight.
But field events often produce excitement and drama.
New Zealand is particularly strong in throws: eight of the 15 athletes with provisional Olympic selection are throwers, including Dame Valerie Adams who could be heading for her fifth Olympics.
Seven of the eight were at the Cooks Classic in January. Only hammer thrower Julia Ratcliffe did not compete.
The other field event athlete is high jumper Hamish Kerr, who set the Cooks Gardens stadium record at the Pak'n save Cooks Classic in January. The Para Team also has three throwers in the named six, including Dame Valerie's sister Lisa who came within a centimetre of breaking her own world record at the Cooks Classic.
Whanganui throwers had a quiet past season. Only Cody Campbell secured a major podium finish, coming third in the junior boys North Island Schools javelin at Porritt Stadium in April with a personal best 33.21-metre effort, demonstrating the potential to develop further.
At the Jennian Holmes New Zealand Championships Sophie Andrews threw the hammer to a personal best 38.96m to finish 4th in the under-20 grade.
It was a good reward for Andrews who has worked hard throughout her Whanganui High School days at all throwing disciplines.
She is now at Auckland University with the motivation such personal bests can provide. Andrews should be encouraged by the progress of 21-year-old former Whanganui athlete Lexi Maples who won her first individual medal in the senior hammer with an excellent series of throws confirming her progress under Athletics New Zealand lead coach for throw Dale Stevenson in Christchurch.
A number of young throwers, including Cody Campbell and fellow Whanganui Secondary Schools Team members Olivia Pickford, Ana Pearce, Blue Ashby-Pumipi, Vaitini Reweti and Bridget Trott, show potential.
Trott, as a Year 9 athlete, was a javelin finalist at New Zealand Schools in December and should strive to follow in her father Andrew's footsteps - he still has the 20th all-time New Zealand javelin mark with a 65.40m throw in 1990 after a successful school and senior career.
Jacky Dai gets my vote as our leading field event athlete last season. Dai first came to notice when he finished second in his NZSS debut as a junior boy triple Jumper in 2019. He followed this with a fourth place as a Year 11 athlete in the senior boys when he added 30cm to his personal best. Dai demonstrated an excellent competition temperament when he set this personal best in the third round after staring elimination in the face with two no jumps in the opening rounds.
Dai lost the chance to compete at the Athletics New Zealand Championships with the Covid postponement of the under-18 grade. He put disappointment behind him by finishing third in the North Island Senior Boys, only 2cm shy of silver. He can now look towards December when the New Zealand Under-18 Championships have been creatively combined with the New Zealand Schools Championships.
He follows a strong group of triple jumpers over the past decades. Scott Newman, now Athletics New Zealand coach manager, won three senior titles, is number two on the Collegiate School All-time and heads the Whanganui Club list. His 1997 15.26m jump places him 19th in the New Zealand All-time list. Ahead of Newman in the Collegiate All-time is Daniel Natusch who set the New Zealand Schools record of 14.92, breaking the existing mark by 50cm. This record remains to this day. Dai has past athletes to inspire him over his final two years at school.
He will be helped in this by training partner Jonty Tripe who finished three places behind him at North Island in 6th place.
Other jumpers to show promise at major championships included Whanganui Collegiate School record holder Emma Bedford who was sixth in the Senior Girls High Jump at North Island Schools as did promising Cullinane student Damian Todd also 6th in a promising Intermediate grade North Island high jump debut. Other jumpers to impress included Georgiana Absolom (Intermediate Girls High Jump), Dominic Bingle (Junior Boys Long Jump), Israel Calkin (Junior Boys Triple Jump), Carrie Rennie (intermediate Girls Long Jump), Keane Metekingi (Senior Boys Triple Jump), Lucy Brown and Yasmin Christenhusz (Senior Girls Long and Triple Jumps).
The 2021-2022 season will provide many early field event opportunities starting with the three regional leagues leading into December's combined schools and national championships in December followed by 2022 Classics and Championships in March.