2013 review: Unbeaten Adams in her own class

TONY SMITH
Last updated 05:00 30/12/2013
Val Adams
Grahame Cox/Fairfax NZ
IN FORM: Val Adams never seems to be out of it.

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The ''fieldies'' thrived and left the ''trackies'' in their wake in New Zealand athletics this year.

Shot put superstar Valerie Adams again led the way with her fourth consecutive world championships title in Moscow in August.

The double Olympic champion dominated the Diamond League professional series and, like the All Blacks, was unbeaten in 2013, winning 13 events.

The 29-year-old has now won 42 competitions on the bounce and, since the defrocking of drugs cheat Nadzeya Ostapchuk (Belarus), has no serious rival.

Barring injury, Adams should be on course for another world title in 2015 and a third successive Olympic gold medal in Rio.

Teenage Aucklander Jacko Gill shattered the world under-20 record held by two-time senior world champion David Storl. Gill  produced a massive 23-metre throw with the 6-kilogram shot in Auckland in March.

The 19-year-old, who has overcome some niggling injuries, will now carry New Zealand's hopes at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow where one of his biggest rivals will be a compatriot.

Tom Walsh, an apprentice carpenter who divides his time between Christchurch and Timaru, missed qualifying for the world championships by a centimetre. But he's improved his personal best by more than 50 centimetres since.

The 21-year-old broke Gill's New Zealand senior record (20.38m) in Geelong in December with a 2.45m throw.  Six days later, at the Zatopek Classic meet in Geelong, he improved his own mark by 16cm with a 20.61m effort.

Walsh's new personal best would have earned him a seventh-place finish at the world championships.

Top shot putters don't reach their physical peak until their late 20s or early 30s, so New Zealand can confidently look forward to more improvement from Gill and Walsh.

Not since the 1970s, when John Walker, Rod Dixon and Dick Quak were in their middle-distance running pomp, has New Zealand track and field had two world-class performers in the same event.

Adams' fourth gold medal was the standout highlight of New Zealand's world championships campaign.

Race walker Quentin Rew again showed his ability to grind out a personal best on the biggest stage. He was 17th in the 50km walk in Moscow, shaving 4min 36sec off his PB set at the 2012 London Olympics.

Rookie runners Angie Smit and Zane Robertson also performed above expectations. Smit, 22, missed the cut for the 800m semifinals by one place.

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The University of Canterbury student became the first Canterbury athlete to make a world championships squad since hurdler Rebecca Wardell in 1993, when she ran a personal best 2min 0.03sec to finish fourth at the World University Games in Russia. Smit, whose next goal is to break the 2min barrier, backed it up with a 2min 0.42sec effort on her Diamond League debut at the London Olympic stadium.

Robertson, a Waikato athlete based in Ethiopia, qualified for the worlds with a blistering 13min 13.83sec PB in Belgium - the third fastest 5000m in New Zealand history.

He justified his selection by making the 5000m final, but found the pace too hot, finishing second-last in 13min 46.55sec in a race won by double Olympic 5000m and 10,000m champion Mo Farah.

Waikato javelin thrower Stuart Farquhar finished 10th in the final, but Beijing Olympics silver medallist Nick Willis was pipped at the post for a place in the 1500m final after finishing seventh in his semifinal.

But Willis' world championship buildup was disrupted by a calf injury sustained in Shanghai in mid-May, which forced him to miss some Diamond League races. He and wife Sienna also welcomed son Lachlan, their first-born, into the world six weeks before the Moscow meet.

Robertson and twin brother Jake, who qualified for the 500m and 10,000m at the world championships, are only 23 while Smit is 22, Walsh 21 and Gill 19. The future of New Zealand track and field looks bright.

- Stuff

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