Faumuina fails to make NZ athletics squad

Willis, Vili head NZ team

Last updated 17:37 09/04/2009

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Former world women's discus title holder Beatrice Faumuina has been left out of an initial nine-strong New Zealand team named today for the world athletics championships in Berlin in August.

Heading the team are reigning world and Olympics women's shot put champion Valerie Vili and Olympics men's 1500m bronze medallist Nick Willis.

Vili will be defending her world title won in Osaka in 2007 while Willis has been named for the 800m and 1500m.

Faumuina was criticised for her performance at the Beijing Olympics last year, after performing well below her best and finishing 28th.

The 1997 world champion then sparked a controversy by asking to leave the New Zealand camp early.

Faumuina has this season beaten the B grade qualifying mark of 58m for the Berlin world championships, throwing 60.03m to win her 16th national title in Wellington recently - but well short of the A grade qualifying of 62m.

Faumuina made her world championships debut in 1995 in Gothenburg, Sweden and has attended every world meet since then with the exception of Edmonton in 2001.

Clearly, she is past the point of being considered a B grade development athlete and will have to plot a campaign to surpass the A grade mark before July 27 when the New Zealand team will be confirmed.

Athletics NZ high performance director Kevin Ankrom said Faumuina's name would be put forward for consideration by the selection committee if she met the A qualifying standard.

Vili and Willis are joined in the NZ team by Adrian Blincoe (5000m), James Dolphin (200m), Stuart Farquhar (javelin), Brent Newdick (decathlon), Kimberley Smith (5000m, 10,000m), Rebecca Wardell (heptathlon) and Monique Williams (200m, 400m).

It will be the fourth world championships for Vili who was fifth in the shotput at Paris in 2003, third at Helsinki in 2005 and won in Osaka in 2007.

After a fourth in the 1500m at the world junior championships in 2002, Willis reached the 1500m semifinal in Helsinki and was 10th in the final of the 1500m in Osaka.

A further selection will also be made on May 25 of athletes to compete in the marathon and World Cup marathon.

Of those named today, Blincoe was a semifinalist in the 1500m at Paris and Helsinki and Dolphin reached the quarterfinals in the 200m at Paris and Osaka.

Newdick, heading for his first world championships, has been selected as a development athlete. Newdick was fourth in the decathlon at the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games.

Williams has also been selected as a development athlete and will be entering her first senior championships after competing at the world youth championships in 2001 and the world junior championships in 2004.

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Smith was 15th in the 10,000m in Helsinki improving to fifth in Osaka.

Wardell competed in Helsinki in the 400m hurdles. At the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne Wardell finished seventh in the heptathlon.

-NZPA

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