Mystery surrounding Jacko Gill's groin injury
SIMON PLUMB AND FRED WOODCOCK
The Jacko Gill camp seemed in disarray yesterday with the 19-year-old shot put star scotching a claim by his father that he was injured on the eve of his scheduled showdown with Tom Walsh.
Yesterday morning Gill's father, Walter, said his son was suffering from a groin injury ahead of next week's national championships in Wellington, where Gill Jr is set to face Walsh for the New Zealand shot put title and attempt to join his Christchurch rival in qualifying for the Commonwealth Games.
That left a baffled Walsh wondering whether he and Gill would compete against each other before the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
When Fairfax Media contacted Gill's manager, Les Mills, and Athletics NZ's high performance director, Scott Goodman, soon after the announcement, both said it was the first they had heard of the injury.
Everyone seemed baffled until Jacko Gill tweeted to his near-4000 followers last night: "Just so everyone knows I'm completely injury free. My last niggle was over 1 year ago. Even if I was injured I'd still be in Wellington!"
Speaking before the Gill tweet, Goodman said he'd spoken with Gill's coach, Kirsten Hellier, a matter of hours earlier and at no point in their conversation was an injury mentioned.
"I was speaking with people yesterday, and no-one said anything. It's the first I've heard of it," Goodman said.
"I spoke to Kirsten Hellier yesterday [Tuesday], she didn't say anything and she's involved with coaching him now."
Likewise, Olympian and successful entrepreneur Mills, who was unveiled as Gill's manager last month as part of a wider support crew including Hellier, said he had no knowledge of the situation.
Mills said he had recently returned from a month-long holiday and attempts to contact the Gill family were unsuccessful.
"I have not spoken to Jacko, Walter, or Nerida [Gill's mother] since I got back. I tried to get to them yesterday but no-one was home the couple of times I called, so I have no idea, to be honest," Mills said.
The head-to-head between Gill and Walsh has been eagerly awaited for months and the spotlight was cranked up significantly 12 days ago when Walsh produced a national record to win a surprise bronze medal at the world indoor championships in Sopot, Poland.
Shortly after Walsh's achievement, Gill posted another of his cult, full-throttle training videos on social media – an apparent attempt to demonstrate he was in excellent condition before the faceoff.
Walsh has won the past four national shot put titles but was looking forward to a stern challenge from Gill next week in Wellington.
"It will be amazing to compete against him, if he comes right," Walsh said from Melbourne, where he is preparing to compete at the Melbourne World Challenge meet on Saturday night.
The 22-year-old Canterbury builder acknowledged the much anticipated showdown might not happen until Glasgow, if Gill is ruled out of the nationals.
"Hopefully at some point we get to throw against each other, which will be good for both of us and hopefully good for the New Zealand public to see.
"But it is what it is. It's high performance sport so these things are going to happen, especially with the weights involved. It's one of the challenges, to stay injury-free."
Walsh flew straight to Melbourne after his Oceania indoor record throw of 21.26m in Poland and has been concentrating on consistency during the past week's training, as well as not letting the success go to his head.
The latter certainly hasn't been difficult.
"I've been knocked down again," he said. "The boys from work have been giving me a bit of shit so that's good."
- Fairfax Media
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