Walsh throws down gauntlet

Last updated 08:24 24/03/2014
Tom Walsh
DEAN KOZANIC/ Fairfax NZ
SHOT BRO: Kiwi shot put thrower Tom Walsh finished third at the IAAF's Glasgow competition.

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Tom Walsh will carry record-setting form into his long-awaited showdown with shot put rival Jacko Gill at the the New Zealand athletics championships in Wellington.

Fresh from his bronze medal-winning exploits at the world indoor championships in Sopot, Poland, earlier this month, the 22-year-old Cantabrian added 55 centimetres to his national outdoor record with a dominant throw of 21.16 metres at the IAAF World Challenge in Melbourne on Saturday night.

Walsh, who also set the previous New Zealand record at Melbourne's Lakeside Stadium, is now ranked second on the IAAF outdoor rankings for 2014 - a positive sign before this weekend's encounter with Gill, 19.

"I'm happy to back up my performance at world indoors with another 21m throw," Walsh said.

"It was a good series and I knew there was more to come because I had a couple of throws in the 20.40m and 20.50m range early in the comp, which weren't technically that good."

Walsh had flown to Melbourne from Poland and benefited from 10 days training before obliterating the field - Australian Damien Birkenhead was his closest challenger with a best of 19.31m.

As expected, Valerie Adams reigned supreme in the women's shot put, racking up her 45th consecutive victory despite being fatigued from a long journey from Poland.

The two-time Olympic champion timed her arrival into Melbourne later than Walsh and was still jaded - not that her win was ever in doubt.

A second-round throw of 19.68m extended her unbeaten sequence that stretches back to August 2010.

"It was one of my worst competitions for a while but a win's a win," she admitted.

Michael Cochrane secured the Kiwi contingent's third gold but was just 0.04 seconds short of the Commonwealth Games B standard for Glasgow in the 400m hurdles.

The 22-year-old, who was 0.02sec adrift of the Athletics New Zealand standard in Perth last month, clocked 49.74sec and was bullish about making the necessary improvements in Wellington.

"I was drawn out in lane six and went out way too fast. It was far from the perfect race but I had the energy to bring it home," he said. "I'll get it [the B standard] next time."

Meanwhile, Rosa Flanagan's record-breaking season continued as she shaved almost 10sec from her 3000m steeplechase personal best to become the fastest Kiwi under-20 athlete for the event.

The 18-year-old from Christchurch won the Australian junior title in 10min 06.87sec and smashed that record with a stunning 9min 56.97sec earning the silver - although she is still short of the B standard for Glasgow.

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Other Kiwis medallists were Hamish Carson and Malcolm Hicks, who were third in the 1500m and 5000m, respectively.

- The Timaru Herald

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