Te Rina Keenan 'getting feel' for the discus
Te Rina Keenan looks more like a runner than a thrower right up to the point she turns her long, lean frame into a tornado of arms and legs and hurls a discus skyward.
The 22-year-old headlined an exciting triple act at the Capital Classic athletics meet at Newtown Park last night where women's discus showed itself to be in rude health.
Nick Willis' late run in the 3000m was always going to be the draw card on the newly laid Wellington track, but the talent in the thrower's circle was hard to ignore.
Keenan threw 55.98m with her first throw to finish just ahead of Auckland training partners Sisotina Hakeai and Mere Vaka.
And though Keenan couldn't top the 58.25m PB she threw in Wanganui last week, it didn't blunt the excitement of her Athletics New Zealand coach Matt Dallow who has been coaching her since she returned from the University of Hawaii.
"She's only just started that road with full time training less than a year ago... she's made some big changes and improved about five metres in the past 12 months," Dallow said.
"Technically she's come along and understanding what it's all about and getting a feel for it which is what we want."
"World champs would be nice this year but what we're aiming for is a good result at Commonwealths next year as a springboard to the next world champs and then the Olympics in 2016."
Following in the footsteps of Beatrice Faumuina, Keenan's best is already the second-longest throw by a New Zealand women and only a metre shy of the world championship B-standard.
Keenan differs from Faumuina in one obvious way, a taller, leaner athlete, not the stereotype for the throwing disciplines in recent times.
Her mother, TeAroha, was a New Zealand netball representative and coach, while uncle Mata'afa Keenan was a tall lock for Auckland and Samoa.
"One of our goals is to put some weight on to help with the strength and increase power without negatively effecting the power to weight ratio and that means putting weight on over time, not hurrying that process," Dallow said. "Long limbs are an advantage, particularly in discus. A long lever is the ability to create more velocity... having long legs is a bonus.
"She's still 10 metres off Beatrice's PB, but Beatrice was a phenomenal thrower. Te Rina's career has taken a slightly different path, but she has the ability to throw a lot further."
Keenan was ninth in the US collegiate champs last year before finishing her four years of study and returning to New Zealand to work with Dallow, who she met at a meet in Europe last year.
Along with Hakeai, 18, and Vaka, 17, both top-ten finishers at the junior world championships last year, Dallow believes he has a rare batch of talent.
Meanwhile, on the track Joseph Millar, of Tauranga, continued his winning ways in the men's 100m in a time of 10.61s from Hawke's Bay's Cameron French, 10.72 and Aucklander Issac Tatoa 10.73.
Christchurch Old Boys' Kelsey Berryman won the women's 100m in a time of 12.21s, while Emma Sutherland won the high jump with a best of 1.77m, upsetting the favourite Elizabeth Lamb.