Shot putter closes in on NZ's best ever thrower

South Canterbury shot putter Tom Walsh stole some of the spotlight away from the runners by smashing his personal best by half a metre at the Inter-national Track Meet at Christchurch's Christ's College on Saturday.

Walsh hefted the 7.26kg shot 19.83m, eclipsing Les Mills' old personal best and making Walsh New Zealand's second best ever thrower behind Jacko Gill who has broken the 20m mark.

Black Stick forward Anita Punt, who has a reputation for burning up hockey turfs, turned heads at Christ's College when she blazed to the lead in the women's 100m and 300m on Upper - the college's name for its sportsfield - confirming that she's one of the fastest women on two legs in New Zealand.

Punt was invited to the International Track Meet by sponsor New Balance to add novelty value but the Nelson-born Wellington resident won both her events and is now eyeing the national championships in March. Although her 100m time (12.61sec) was not especially fast, it was on grass and only a fraction slower than one of the men in the 100m final (won by Joseph Millar, from Auckland, in 11.22s).

Punt recorded 39.6s in the 300m dash, easing up with the race in the bag, suggesting she has a future in longer sprints.

Her next sporting assignment is a low-key track meet in Hamilton on Saturday before she heads away with the New Zealand hockey team for a tour of Argentina later this month.

"So that means if I run at the nationals I will have about one week to prepare while the other girls will have been building for it all year," Punt said. "But it is fun and I am enjoying it, so why not?"

In contrast, Nick Willis was comparatively pedestrian.

The Beijing Olympic silver medallist tried to run under four minutes for the mile but conditions - a fresh easterly - put paid to those aspirations.

His time of 4min 8.1s was slow but he still recorded his first victory at the meeting, after several aborted attempts to compete previously, and a couple of shock losses.

He later pleased the masses - about 3000 people came to watch him run - when he announced he would be back next year.

Promoter Paul Coughlan said he was rapt with the turnout and notable performances including a 3000m race between New Zealand's Lucy Van Dalen and Susan Kuijken (Netherlands). Kuijken kicked away from Van Dalen on the home straight. 

The Timaru Herald