Editorial: Well done, that man

19:05, Mar 10 2014
Tom Walsh
PERFECT PUT: Tom Walsh on the way to winning an unexpected bronze medal at the World Indoor Athletics Championships in Poland.

It's been a long time since South Canterbury produced a world-class track and field athlete.

Like at least 15 years. That was Joanne Henry (1998 Commonwealth Games bronze medallist heptathlete).

Before that was decathlete John Hunt in the mid-80s, and then back to Dick Tayler, who has just celebrated the 40th anniversary of his famous Commonwealth Games 10,000 metres victory.

But now we have another, and his name's Tom Walsh.

Okay, so technically he's been living in Christchurch, but he's a Timaru boy through and through. This is "home".

What is exciting is that the 22-year-old Walsh has emerged from virtually nowhere. It was only a few short years ago he was contemplating whether to concentrate on rugby or cricket or athletics, in particular the shot put.


But the latter won out and the rest, as they say, is ... Well, it is history, but that almost assumes there's no more to come. And there certainly could be.

Walsh turned a corner in December when he twice set New Zealand records while competing in Australia, leapfrogging the much-heralded Jacko Gill, then injured.

Such performances build confidence, they make the training more enjoyable. So that at the next event, even better things can happen.

It's called being on a roll.

And so, at the weekend, he continued that roll.

Heading to the world indoor champs in Poland to "gain experience" he hoped for a top-eight spot. This was a world-class field after all. His first major international competition. After four rounds he was fifth. Mission accomplished.

And then his last throw produced a career best 21.26m, an Oceania indoor record and third place overall.

He was stoked. You just have to read his blog to see how stoked. Sportspeople often say they can't believe it when they do well. Walsh sounds like he really can't believe it.

Now there's a mouth-watering future ahead. Maybe a rethink on how much time he spends training - the builder's toolbelt may go - and a showdown with Gill, when he returns from injury.

Credit is also due here to Walsh's Timaru coach Ian Baird, who also coached Joanne Henry. Oh, and John Hunt.


The Timaru Herald