City applauds shot put hero

MIXED EMOTIONS: Tom Walsh reflects on the silver medal he had hoped would be gold.
MIXED EMOTIONS: Tom Walsh reflects on the silver medal he had hoped would be gold.

Timaru shot putter Tom Walsh's dreams of a Commonwealth Games gold medal were dashed by a Jamaican "bomb" yesterday.

However, his efforts were still loudly applauded by 50 supporters and members of the South Canterbury Amateur Athletics Club, who got up early to watch the event unfold on television.

Walsh, who was hot favourite going into the final, saw Jamaican O'Dayne Richards unleash a career-best effort and had to settle for silver at Hampden Park.

SCAAC patron Bruce Leadley said Walsh had done South Canterbury, his club, and his old school, Timaru Boys', very proud.

"He is only young when it comes to shot put, he will be back."

There were plenty of cheers, applause and calls of "come on, Tom" when Walsh entered the ring each time.

Even 8-year-old Skye Bowen, a shot put winner at the Colgate Games, was impressed.

"He did really well."

Grant Lord said Walsh had given it everything.

"Tom was only just short of his personal best. The Jamaican's put was world class.

"Our [South Canterbury] athletes have done extraordinary well with individual gold, silver and bronze as well as the team cycling medal. Everyone should be proud of their efforts."

Lord said shooter Natalie Rooney had also excelled and it was unfortunate she just missed a bronze medal in the trap shoot-off.

SCAAC president Jenny Ryan said they couldn't miss the opportunity to get together to support Walsh.

"He has just done so well and is a real role model for the young athletes here."

Walsh's best effort was 21.19m, just shy of his career best of 21.26m.

He must have seen the writing on the wall after Richards' sensational fourth put 0f 21.61m, which blitzed his personal best by half a metre.

Walsh held his head high despite the obvious disappointment and applauded the crowd before leaving the arena.

"Obviously I wanted the gold but I'll definitely take the silver. It was a massive throw by O'Dayne," Walsh said.

The Timaru Herald