Siositina Hakeai makes women's discus final
It cut through the chilly air like a knife. A solitary roar of encouragement from her room-mate Valerie Adams in the stands calmed Siositina Hakeai's nerves and sent her on the way to the Commonwealth Games women's discus final.
The 20-year-old from Auckland was hit by the jitters before a packed Hampden Park house of 44,000, but regained her composure to throw 57.19m with her third attempt in qualifying.
That passed the magical yellow line of 57m and booked Hakeai a spot in the 12-woman final, scheduled for 5.15am tomorrow.
The three-time New Zealand champion threw the fourth-best distance of the qualifiers, behind Australia's Dani Samuels (64.53m), India's Seema Punia (58.44m) and Australia's Taryn Gollshewsky (58.24m).
Adams, fresh from her third successive shot put gold, was in the crowd with her coach Jean-Pierre Egger and was no shrinking violet.
"I actually did, I heard her yell. She's my roomie and she's awesome. She's been so supportive and given me advice to calm down, the crowd's going to be crazy, just do my thing and it will happen," Hakeai said.
It was slightly different half an hour earlier when Hakeai strode out to the centre with her 16 rivals.
The previous biggest crowd she'd played to was at the world junior championships in Barcelona in 2012, when she finished fourth. "That had nothing on this," she said.
"In my warmups I went in calm and relaxed and then started competition and the crowd just went crazy. I've never competed in front of so many people and I think I let the nerves get to me.
"But the main thing is I qualified, that's all that matters. Tomorrow is the day that counts and I'm going to leave my heart out on the field."
Hakeai improved with each attempt, starting with 54.40m, then 56.27m and finally her 57-plus effort, with coach Matt Dallow urging her to relax and treat it like a training session..
Samuels is a red-hot gold medal favourite with a season best of 67.99m, the second-best in the world. But it looks an even contest behind her, and Hakeai's personal best of 59.65m set in Hamilton in February ranked her fourth in the field coming in.
"Anything can happen. But to be honest, if I get a PB tomorrow and don't medal I'll be happy."
The penultimate day at the track is the busiest for New Zealand athletes with 12 in action.
High jumper Sarah Cowley kicks things off as she jumps for a medal, just before Hakeai's final, while Nick Willis' 1500m campaign starts with the heats, alongside Zane Robertson and Julian Matthews.
Nikki Hamblin and Angie Smit contest the 800m final (7.45am NZT), Jake Robertson backs up from his 5000m fall in the 10,000m, the women's 4x400m relay preliminaries get under way and Stuart Farquhar throws his first javelin in pursuit of another medal, four years after his Delhi silver.