Tom Walsh beats Jacko Gill for shot put crown

MARK GEENTY
Last updated 17:30 29/03/2014
Tom Walsh
Photosport
DISTANCE AHEAD: Tom Walsh threw a New Zealand allcomers record 20.79m to win his fifth straight shot put national title, beating Jacko Gill by almost a metre in their first duel.

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Jacko Gill qualified for the Commonwealth Games but was no match for New Zealand's shot put king Tom Walsh who won his fifth consecutive national title in Wellington today.

National record-holder Walsh threw a New Zealand allcomers record of 20.79m while Gill's best effort was 19.93m, enough to book him a ticket to Glasgow. The giant Auckland teenager needed to throw a B standard of 19.75m to be considered for Games selection, and did so with his second throw.

Before a big crowd at Newtown Park, on a blustery afternoon, Walsh stood tallest to confirm his status as New Zealand's No 1.

Three of the Timaru builder's six throws topped 20m and he saved his best till last with a 20.79m. There was controversy too when the throw was red flagged when his foot appeared to touch the stop board, but officials reviewed it and allowed the throw to stand.

"I came here to get the New Zealand title and I've done that. I didn't throw as far as I wanted but I'll take that any day," Walsh said.

"I've been throwing pretty well over the last month so I was pretty confident I could throw enough to win. But there were always nerves, every time I throw against Jacko is hard work."

Gill's 19.93m would have been enough to win the national shot put title in any other year, but Walsh has taken it to a new level and sparked a rivalry that will carry on in Glasgow and should continue for years.

The defending champion was clear favourite, after throwing a New Zealand record 21.26m at the world indoor championships earlier this month.

Gill, who topped 20m with a warm-up throw, was frustrated he hadn't thrown further but was happy to achieve his No 1 goal for the meet.

"The first goal was to get the qualifying mark then I would have liked a 20. I didn't do that so I'm a bit disappointed but Commonwealth Games qualifying; I can't be too angry at myself," Gill said.

The shot put took centre stage on day two of the championships, with Olympic champion Valerie Adams winning her 13th title in a canter.

Adams threw 20.46m, her second-best effort for the season, in winning the women's title over Te Rina Keenan (15.03m).

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- Fairfax Media

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