Te Anau's Gail Kirkman had to compete seven times for her gold medal at the World Masters Track and Field Championships in Porto Alegre, Brazil, breaking three New Zealand masters record along the way.
Kirkman's gold came in the W60 heptathlon event, a gruelling two- day combined competition that saw her line up for a 200m, 80m hurdles, high jump, long jump, shot put, javelin and 800m. This is tough in anybody's language; tougher still when you are facing the world's best.
Kirkman proved herself the best of the best, winning the event in a W60 New Zealand record of 5300 points. This included a New Zealand record for the 800m (2:42.70) and the high jump (1.30m). Breaking a national record is not easy, doing it in combined events competition is outstanding.
She was going well, holding the overall lead but a disastrous javelin put the pressure on and a good 800m race was essential. However, winning the 800m saw off any chance of a comeback from Australian Wilma Perkins and Kirkman won by a more than comfortable 301 points from Perkins with fellow Kiwi Tui Ashe third.
Since then Kirkman has qualified for the 300m hurdles final then has three days off before the 400m, an event in which she is one of the favourites.
Mark Flaus is the other Southlander at Porto Alegre. He is competing in the throwing events in the men's 50, an age group dominated by European athletes. His campaign opened with the M50 shot put and a superb fifth placing, the 12.82m measure was just 1cm away from fourth.
Meanwhile it was a great way to start the Southland athletics season for Ashley Craig who celebrated his first competition at Friday's Surrey Park twilight meet by smashing the Southland men's under-20 shot put record.
His mark of 14.01 added 58cm to the old record set by William Hubber back in 2008.
For the second week in a row wind and rain dominated, preventing any use of electronic equipment, consequently all track events were hand timed with no wind readings.
Best of these were Deejay Kennedy and Gavin Stark both recording 10.8 in the 100m. Kennedy followed his 100 up with a 23.6 200m. Jordan Rackham ran 9.35 for the 3000m, a reasonable time considering the strong wind.
Rackham, Liam Cullen and Jack Beaumont took turns leading into the wind then on the final lap Rackham kicked and ran away from the other two while Beaumont picked up his pace to grab a three second advantage over Cullen.
Long jumpers had difficulty in the wind with Todd Swanson recording 6.10m off a short run up and Emma Hopcroft 4.84m, albeit from behind the board every time, the best of them.
- © Fairfax NZ News