Jamaican out-bombs Walsh for shot put gold

MARK GEENTY IN GLASGOW
Last updated 05:00 30/07/2014
Tom Walsh
LAWRENCE SMITH/Fairfax NZ
MIXED EMOTIONS: Tom Walsh reflects on the silver medal he had hoped would be gold.
Tom Walsh
LAWRENCE SMITH/ Fairfax NZ
SHOT PUT SILVER: Kiwi Tom Walsh finished second in the men's shot put.

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Canadian Tim Nedow wandered past under the Hampden Park grandstand, shaking his head.

''Yeah, O'Dayne just bombed one!'' The men's shot put bronze medallist's voice boomed.

He was referring to Jamaican O'Dayne Richards, previous personal best 21.11m, who blitzed that by half a metre with his fourth throw in the Commonwealth Games shot put final.

It spelled the end for New Zealand's gold medal favourite Tom Walsh, who replied with 21.19m, his best of his throws. It was 7cm short of his PB (set at the world indoor championships this year) but nowhere near enough.

''He threw the big bomb before I threw the big bomb,'' Walsh said.

This was a different Walsh.

The jovial Christchurch builder, larger than life and confident when he strolled into the Games village, looked shattered. He was a deserved favourite on form but emerged with silver, still nothing to be sneezed at.

Walsh wore a stern look and glassy eyes, but to his credit held his head up and waved to the crowd as he departed the packed arena. There was a consoling hug from parents Peter and Karen.

''Obviously I wanted the gold but I'll definitely take the silver. It was a massive throw by O'Dayne. I thought I had it in me but these things happen. I tried my best out there and everything I've done this year is pretty good.''

Walsh was consistent, with his five counting throws all between 20.73m and 21.19m.

He was top qualifier with his solitary throw of 21.24m on Monday but didn't quite feel in the groove again 24 hours later on a warm Glasgow evening before a full Hampden house.

''I was still missing it a wee bit; just rushing it. it's a tough one to look back on right now. If I had the timing that I had [on Monday] and the calmness I had [then] it probably would have been pretty close.

''I got a little more tense as the competition went through and the pressure went on. I never rule myself out and I thought I had it in me.''

Richards said he'd been throwing 20.50m in training since December but he hadn't unleashed it in competition till now. He wasn't confident of beating Walsh.

''He's a good guy, he smiles a lot and he helps other competitors to relax. A great guy. Today was the day that it came together, thank God for that,'' Richards said.

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Walsh is still just 22 and will bounce back. He announced his arrival with his world indoor championships bronze and moved his 2014 ranking into the world's top-10. He said the more 21m throws he achieved, the more confident he became.

Still, he pinned his hopes on winning gold for his country. He planned to join his family and mates for ''a few beers'' then would prepare for the Stockholm Diamond League meet next month.

Next year might feature some more Diamond League meets against the world's best but Walsh wasn't about to launch into the pro circuit as he eyes the Rio Olympics. He'll also continue on the building site in Christchurch.

''I'm here to throw well at the big championships so if the Diamond Leagues don't fit into what I want I won't be chasing them. No-one cares how far you throw at the Diamond League, they only care about how you go at the big champs,'' he said.

''World champs are the big one in Beijing next August; that's the big one for me."

- Stuff

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