First batch of NZ athletes endorsed for Glasgow

MARK GEENTY AND TONY SMITH
Last updated 05:00 08/04/2014

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As Nick Willis chases a Commonwealth Games 5000m qualifying time, the duel to join him in the 1500m will be the focal point of the next two months.

The New Zealand Olympic Committee yesterday confirmed the first batch of 11 athletes for Glasgow in July, with high jumper Sarah Cowley the latest to book her ticket with a 1.89m leap in Melbourne at the weekend.

At least three more names will be added on May 5, with decathletes Brent Newdick and Scott McLaren, and marathoner Kim Smith having achieved an Athletics NZ B standard.

Then it is over to the United States where Willis will chase a 5000m B standard of 13min 25sec in the hope of contesting the double in Glasgow.

"We've got two in the 5000m [Jake and Zane Robertson], so there's a spot there and that door will be open. That's Nick's call and we'll be supportive of what he chooses to do, understanding that he usually makes good decisions," said Athletics NZ's selection convenor, Graham Seatter.

Jake Robertson has run a 1500m B standard too, along with Julian Matthews, while national champion Hamish Carson has three races in the US in May to crack the B standard of 3:38.60. As it stands, Willis is the only confirmed 1500m runner with two other spots available.

"With Julian and Hamish around the traps, we think the 1500m is quite wide open, and they've got a couple more months to post times and we didn't want to close the door on anybody," Seatter said.

The final deadline for qualifying times is May 25, although someone who is already qualified can chase times in another event past that date.

Others seeking a qualifying time in the US include two-time silver medallist Nikki Hamblin and London Olympian Lucy van Dalen, while decathlete Portia Bing is pressing on too after missing the heptathlon B standard at the Australian championships at the weekend.

Among those who probably missed their final chance in Melbourne were 400m hurdlers Michael Cochrane and national champion Cameron French, and high jumper Liz Lamb.

Shot put medal hope Tom Walsh took a lunch break from his building site job to attend yesterday's media session in Christchurch.

The 22-year-old apprentice carpenter confirmed he will train with double Olympic women's shot put champion Valerie Adams in Switzerland in the leadup to Glasgow.

"I've got another two months' buildup to go till May 31, which is my first comp in the US. From there, I'll go and train with Val for the rest of the time before the Comm Games, which will be awesome."

Walsh said he would compete in a Diamond League meeting in the US and hoped to get in two or three competitions before the Games, then will stay on for the Diamond League circuit.

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Walsh started a two-month strength and conditioning and technical training block last week.

Angie Smit, 22, posted her 800m qualifying time last year and was always hopeful of selection.

"But you never like to be presumptuous. It was nice to have it officially confirmed," she said.

She planned to celebrate her selection with her Rangiora family last night. "Mum and Dad have already got their tickets."

She also hoped to reach the 1500m qualifying standard in Europe so she could run the double in Glasgow.

- Fairfax Media

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