Shot putter Jacko Gill names his backup crew

SIMON PLUMB
Last updated 05:00 06/02/2014
Jacko Gill
Reuters
WONDER KID: New Zealand's Jacko Gill.

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Auckland shot putter Jacko Gill has announced a new coaching and management team - but is yet to confirm whether he will take on rival Tom Walsh in Christchurch this month as the race for Commonwealth Games qualification heats up.

In a press release issued by Athletics New Zealand, double world junior champion Gill, who has been missing from the competitive scene after injury, has put himself back in the spotlight by unveiling "Team Jacko".

His manager is Les Mills - Olympian, 1966 Commonwealth Games discus champion and more recently entrepreneur. Kirsten Hellier, who previously coached champion Valerie Adams, will take over as coach.

Gill will receive further technical support from former coach Courtney Ireland, and 79-year-old Roy Williams, the 1966 Commonwealth Games decathlon champion, will support his general conditioning. Boxing coach Ben Tupu will also be part of an "inner circle offering drills of the 'noble art' to aid his overall fitness".

The opening paragraph of the Athletics NZ release stated Gill hopes his new team "will guide the teenager successfully through the sometimes difficult transition from the junior to the senior ranks".

Mills says that adjusting to competing with a heavier shot as a senior, and the switch from junior into senior competition, can take time, but says Gill is recovering well from recent injuries.

"His hand and ankles are sound, his mobility and his explosive work are sound and the training distances are good," Mills said.

Gill's next committed target is the March 28-30 New Zealand Championships in Wellington. Beyond that, the shot put ace hopes to feature in the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in July.

However, Gill is still yet to confirm whether he will take on fellow Commonwealth Games candidate Tom Walsh in Christchurch this month at the International Track Meet at Christ's College.

"Tom will definitely be competing. He's a big part of the plan and we're doing a lot to promote his presence," event spokesman Paul Caughlan said.

"We have spoken to Jacko Gill and he's certainly invited, we're leaving the door open for him.

"He [Gill] had indicated that he wasn't yet ready in terms of his comeback from a few injuries. But we're leaving that door open for him in case he wants to take Tom on."

In what is already shaping up to be a fascinating head-to-head in the run-in to Glasgow, where qualifying standards will dictate whether both Walsh and Gill, or only one of them, will be able to qualify, Mills is already talking up Gill's presence at the 2016 Olympics.

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"We are looking more at Jacko's evolution that will take him all the way to Rio. Let's take a steady as she goes approach, because the reality is the transition from juniors to seniors will take at least a couple of years," he said.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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