Sam Tanner will have boarded his Sunday flight for Los Angeles a happy man reflecting on yet another outstanding performance at Saturday's Pak'nSave Cooks Classic.
Tanner, 20, must consider Cooks Gardens his happy hunting ground after adding a new personal best over the mile in the Sir Peter Snell New Zealand Championship Mile, becoming the 66th sub 4-minute mile going to ninth in the all-time Cooks Gardens rankings with his 3:54.97.
In 2019, at Cooks Gardens, he broke the New Zealand under-18 1500m record in January, returning six weeks later to claim the U19 and U20 mile records.
Eric Speakman ran his second sub 4-minute Cooks Gardens mile moving from 20th to 17th on the Cooks Gardens Roll of Honour with his 3:56.66 on Saturday.
George Beamish, who last ran on the Cooks Gardens track in December 2014 at New Zealand Schools where he won the 3000m and ran in the winning Whanganui Collegiate 4 x 400 relay, has kept his affiliation to Whanganui and became the first Whanganui Athlete to run under 4 minutes at Cooks Gardens and was awarded his sub 4-minute cap; another happy face on the US flight on Sunday as Beamish re-joins his professional group in Bolder, Colorado.
There might have been an even bigger smile on the flight back to the South Island from Oli Chignell who became the first Otago man to achieve the mark (3:59.77 – 64th out of the 69 achieved). Chignell's previous best over a mile was 4:19 .52 although he has run a 1500 metres equating to 4:07 mile – a massive personal best for the popular Otago middle distance runner.
The evening was so much more than just the mile race. The male shot putters delivered with Jacko Gill smashing the stadium record by over a metre to win with 21.11 metres from his close rival Tom Walsh who got out to 20.79 metres.
Walsh will rue the third-round effort that was narrowly out of sector on the left hitting the 21 metre marker.
Former World Junior Champion Maddison – Lee Wesche had the misfortune to have six fouls leaving ex-Whanganui athlete Lexi Maples to take a surprise win. This followed her second place in hammer both here and in Hastings where again luck shone on her with two top athletes fouling out.
Maples is the sort of dedicated hard-working athlete who deserves a slice of good fortune. In the same shot competition Lisa Adams (Dame Valerie Adams' sister) was one centimetre shy of her own world para record.
Hamish Gill started in the high jump as Lauren Bruce finished in the hammer breaking Bronwyn Eagles' (Australia) stadium record by nearly 7m to record an impressive 71.34m throw.
Gill continued jumping as the sun dipped behind the Powerco gate to break his own Cooks Gardens stadium record by 5 centimetres jumping 2.27m which tops the World outdoor list this year.
As action unfolded on the track and field the young athletes had their Bayleys-sponsored "Fastest Kid on the Block" sprint finals. The young sprinters wearing their district colours with pride was a colourful sight.
Colgate 100/200m champion Cruz Malo impressed with a runaway win in the under-11s on the same straight where Edie Osei Nketia had won the 100m 90 minutes earlier in 10.54 from Joseph Millar threatening but not beating his father's track record. Nketia took the sprint double winning the 200m in 21.22. Natasha Eady won the women's Permit 200m in a slick 23.49.
Camille Buscomb finally broke the shackles of Palmerston North's Kara Macdermid to win the Women's Mile Championship in 4:38;76 less than two seconds shy of Whanganui Olympian Lucy Oliver's (nee van Dalen) stadium record. The last women's mile champion Heather Matthews (1969) was on hand to present the medals.
Cameron Clark won the under-20 3000m from Zane Powell, with Ben Bidois third after a hard race, while Chloe Browne took the 3000m under-20 women's title (9:10:03.87) from the diminutive Boh Ritchie (10:08.20).
On the track James Roberson won both the Permit 400m and the handicap 400m with a personal best 49.81 while Camryn Smart had an outstanding win in the strong women's field stopping the clock in 54.77.
Right from the first 400m hurdle event with Portia Bing clocking 56.62 and Cameron French 51.41 and local 16-year-old Nat Kirk running 56.05 in his first 400m hurdle effort the Cooks Classic delivered.
Tori Peeters was only just short of the stadium women's javelin record. The Open 800m won by Alex Beddoes produced a whole raft of personal bests and one of the closest finishes of the day with similar action throughout the evening.
The performances of both athletes and the many officials and helpers made the 2021 Cooks Classic a special night.