Chilli reception for Jacko Gill after shot put loss

MARK GEENTY
Last updated 05:00 31/03/2014
 Jacko Gill
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GIVING IT HIS BEST SHOT: Jacko Gill prepares to throw during the men's shotput during the New Zealand track and field championships in Wellington.

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It's back to the training ground and his extensive chilli plantation for Jacko Gill, who is unlikely to eyeball heavyweight rival Tom Walsh again till the Commonwealth Games in July.

The former world junior shot put champion emerged from virtual hibernation in Auckland to book his ticket to Glasgow with a 19.93m throw in Wellington on Saturday.

In any other year that would have won the 19-year-old the title but Walsh remains the king of the ring, winning his fifth successive national crown with a New Zealand allcomers record of 20.79m.

The pair hadn't faced each other since December 2011, and with a firm handshake and man hug they bade farewell again at a cold, blustery Newtown Park before an enthralled crowd which was estimated between 1500 and 3000.

Next time the duo hurl the 7.26kg ball against each other in competition probably won't be till Hampden Park on July 29 with Games medals beckoning.

Walsh returns to his day job as a builder in Christchurch today, and competes next in the United States on May 31.

Gill returns to the North Shore, where he lifts huge weights in the gym and indulges in a passion for growing chilli plants, to try and iron out technical flaws with coach Kirsten Hellier and manager Les Mills.

He dislikes travelling and will remain closer to home for some local competition before linking with the New Zealand team in Europe.

"I'm worrying about distance and worrying about [technical] problems, so of course I'd like to beat him [Walsh] but I can't say if I'm going to. I'll worry about technique first," Gill said.

Gill needed to throw 19.75m for a Games B standard, so achieved his primary goal at his first senior nationals.

He described the big crowd that lined the fence at Newtown Park as "incredible" but was irked he couldn't throw further.

A remarkable junior athlete, the shift to senior ranks continues to be a tough climb, Gill admitted.

"I expected it to be pretty easy. I did really well when I was young and I pushed myself too hard and that's when the injuries came. Now I've got it sorted out, the distance hasn't come but I'm sure it will soon."

Weighing in at 118kg, Gill relished the rivalry with 121kg Walsh and expected the pair would spur each other to new heights at pre-Games training, then in Glasgow.

Walsh raised a triumphant fist after throwing 20.79m with his final attempt. It wasn't quite his national record of 21.26m from Poland this month but was still the furthest anyone had thrown in New Zealand.

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"I didn't know how fit he [Gill] was coming into the comp. I think he came here to get a Comm Games qualifier and if he got a national title, then good as well.

"He did what he came here to do. It's good to have two Kiwis in the one event [in Glasgow], and I bet by that time he'll be throwing a lot further."

The pair reduced a grateful Valerie Adams to what she described as "the curtainraiser".

The Olympic champion won her 13th women's shot put title with 20.46m, her second-best for the season and nearly 5m clear of her rivals before signing a plethora of autographs.

She lines up next in the Diamond League in Doha in May.

- Fairfax Media

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