American rivals hail champion bloke Tom Walsh, saying 'NZ is lucky to have him'

Big Tom Walsh was pretty light on his feet when he realised he had won world championship gold.
REUTERS

Big Tom Walsh was pretty light on his feet when he realised he had won world championship gold.

Tom Walsh's American rivals have talked up the big-hearted shot putter in the wake of his world championship effort, saying "New Zealand is lucky to have him".

Walsh became New Zealand's first men's world athletics champion with his stunning effort in London on Monday and joined fellow throwers Beatrice Faumuina and Valerie Adams as Kiwi gold medallists at this level.

Walsh added to his world indoor success and Olympics bronze medal with a 22.03m throw under immense pressure.

American Ryan Whiting says Tom Walsh is his best mate on the world shot put circuit.
GETTY IMAGES

American Ryan Whiting says Tom Walsh is his best mate on the world shot put circuit.

In the eyes of his decorated American rivals Joe Kovacs, Ryan Crouser and Ryan Whiting, it seems the affable Walsh is a champion bloke as well as a champion athlete.

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Tom Walsh flies the New Zealand flag in London after his world championship shot put success.
GETTY IMAGES

Tom Walsh flies the New Zealand flag in London after his world championship shot put success.

"Tom is my best friend on the circuit, he's awesome," Whiting, who stood on the podium at the 2014 world indoor championships with Walsh, said.

"He's a great guy and New Zealand is lucky to have him

"He flies us to New Zealand every year, which getting to go to New Zealand for free is a pretty good perk.

"He's just good to be around, he's great to train with. He came to Arizona for two weeks and trained with me and I went to Georgia a couple of weeks ago and did a warm up meet with him at Athens where he threw that 22.04 and took the stadium record from me."

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Whiting cheekily suggested it was time for Walsh to marry his girlfriend Dana.

Olympic champion Crouser, who holds the New Zealand all comers record of 22.15m, felt Walsh was a deserved winner.

"Tom is a great guy and a really hard worker and he definitely earned it. He threw really well and was consistently at the top of the field," Crouser said.

Kovacs, the defending world champion and Rio Olympic silver medallist, was full of praise for Walsh as he had to settle for second behind the Kiwi.

"I wanted the gold but my hat's off to Tom Walsh with some great throwing. He's had some consistent meets and he was at the level I expected him to be at."

 - Stuff

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