Tom Walsh out to right a couple of wrongs at Sunday's Big Shot in Christchurch

Tom Walsh in action at last week's Porritt Classic in Hamilton.
TOM LEE/FAIRFAX NZ

Tom Walsh in action at last week's Porritt Classic in Hamilton.

A "pissed off" Tom Walsh could only watch on as Aucklander Jacko Gill won the Big Shot title on his home soil a year ago.

In 2015, American Ryan Whiting relegated him to second place, leaving the Cantabrian desperate to right a couple of wrongs in Christchurch on Sunday.

The 24-year-old Olympic shot put bronze medallist, who missed last year's event due to injury, is one of five athletes being labelled the best group of shot putters ever assembled in New Zealand.

Ryan Crouser won gold at last year's Rio Olympics with a 22.52m heave.
ALEXANDER HASSENSTEIN/GETTY IMAGES

Ryan Crouser won gold at last year's Rio Olympics with a 22.52m heave.

They will go hammer and tong at each other at the Retro Sports Facility in the early season meet, before backing up at the Auckland Track Challenge next weekend. 

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"It's a crazy field. To have this field in New Zealand is ridiculous," Walsh said.

American Ryan Whiting won the 2015 Big Shot.
STACY SQUIRES/FAIRFAX NZ

American Ryan Whiting won the 2015 Big Shot.

He's talking about the inclusion of Olympic gold medallist Ryan Crouser, Whiting, Gill and Aussie gun Damian Birkinhead, who finished second a year ago. 

American Joe Kovacs, who won silver at last year's Rio Olympics, is missing due to wedding commitments, but was keen to make the trip to New Zealand. 

Walsh, who along with Crouser is considered a favourite to win the event, said he is up against against an "outstanding" group.

Aucklander Jacko Gill won last year's Big Shot.
ALEXANDER HASSENSTEIN?GETTY IMAGES

Aucklander Jacko Gill won last year's Big Shot.

"It would have been awesome to be in it last year," Walsh said. 

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"Jacko and Damo threw really well. I was a bit pissed off I missed it last year. This year, it's good to know, at the moment, I'm still in the comp. I can't let these Americans come over here and beat me."

After opening the season with a 20.70m effort at the Porritt Classic in Hamilton last weekend, it will be Walsh's second meet of the season.

Aussie Damien Birkenhead finished second behind Jacko Gill at last year's Big Shot.
STACY SQUIRES/FAIRFAX NZ

Aussie Damien Birkenhead finished second behind Jacko Gill at last year's Big Shot.

Walsh, who boasts a personal-best of 22.21m, isn't expecting to threaten his leading mark and national record on Sunday, but is feeling better than usual for this time of the year.

"I felt pretty good during my comp last weekend," he said. "I was really consistent, which is good for my first comp.

"Usually, it's a good throw and then there is nothing else. All of my throws were between 20.20m and 20.70m, so that was really consistent."

Walsh believes he will probably have to throw between 21m and 21.50m to win on Sunday.

Walsh, Crouser and two-time world indoor champion Whiting have all gone over 22m in the past, while Gill and Birkinhead have cleared the 21m mark. 

Crouser has been vocal in predicting he, Walsh and Kovacs will lead an assault on the shot put world record between now and the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

American Randy Barnes holds the nearly 27-year-old world record of 23.12m, which has widely been considered unbeatable in the drug-tested era. 

"We haven't got a too bad field, have we?" Walsh said. 

Whiting, who only arrived in Christchurch on Thursday, is chasing his second Big Shot title in three years.

The 30-year-old is coming off an injury riddled year and is using the event to launch what he hopes is a strong comeback season.

He missed out on last year's Rio Olympics after finishing fourth at the US trials, just months after recovering from a  severe bone bruise in his right-knee.

Whiting then tore his meniscus in his left-knee, which required surgery last October.

"I'm the bionic man with two knee braces," Whiting said. 

"It's been a long recovery. It feels good to be healthy. With the braces I don't look healthy but I'm finally moving well and feeling better.''

All things considered, Whiting said he will be content with anything over 20m, but couldn't help taking a cheeky stab at Walsh when asked about his determination not to lose to an American on home turf.

"It happened last time, so I wouldn't be surprised if it happened again," the Pennsylvanian native said, referring to his win two years ago. 

"But it's awesome to be here and hanging out with these guys. We're all pretty good friends and we'll try and put on a good show."

Big Shot event director Paul Coughlan said the field for Sunday's meet was of such quality it would be the envy of any European event.

A 1km street race, featuring Angie Petty and Hamish Carson, will also be contested in central Christchurch on Sunday afternoon.

AT A GLANCE

Big Shot and Fast K
Where: Retro Sports Facility
Schedule:
Elite women fast K, 2.30pm
Elite men fast k, 2.35pm
Elite shot put, 4pm.
* Future stars fast k and shot put competitions will also be held between 2pm and 4pm.

 - Stuff

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