FROM ATHLETICS NZ: The titles of the fastest New Zealanders were decided on day one of the New Zealand Track & Field Championships at Mt Smart in Auckland, and both went to athletes from the Waikato Bay of Plenty team.
Joseph Millar confirmed his position as New Zealand’s top sprinter, racing away from the field to win the 100 metres title in 10.32 seconds, clear of Auckland’s Isaac Tatoa and Andy Kruy from Manawatu. The Tauranga 20 year old, now being coached by former New Zealand rep Kerry Hill, improved his personal best of 10.36s, set in winning the title in 2012 . Millar will defend his 200 metres title on Sunday and looks like that championship will be his for the taking.
The women’s race lost some of it’s gloss with the withdrawal of defending champion Monique Williams, but it was another Waikato Bay of Plenty sprinter who shone through, Mariah Ririnui winning her first senior title in 11.84 seconds, a big improvement on her previous fastest time. Kelsey Berryman and Rochelle Coster also dipped under 12 seconds for the minor medals.
Williams looked good winning her heat of the 400 metres and will make a decision on the 200 metres after the 400 metres final.
The junior sprinters were on fire with Kodi Harman grabbing the first New Zealand record of the championships with a stunning 10.42 seconds win in the junior 100 metres, beating the men’s under 19 record of 10.53 set by Todd Blythe in 1993.
Molly Florence won the junior women’s title with a fine 11.96 seconds personal best. Zoe Hobbs also set a new personal best in the Youth women’s 100 in 11.93 seconds.
Tomas Walsh from Canterbury was a surprise winner in the men’s discus, adding over two metres to his personal best to beat defending champion Marshall Hall from Otago into third place, with Canterbury’s Hayden Hall filling second. Walsh, 21 winner of the senior shot put title for the last three years was very pleased to grab his first discus title.
Matthew Wyatt produced his best jump and a huge personal best in the final round of the men’s Long Jump, stretching out to 7.53 metres, the longest winning distance since 2008. Nic Gerrard leading for most of the competition responded with 7.44 metres for second place.
The women’s high jump was expected to be a close battle between defending champion Liz Lamb and Sarah Cowley, but Cowley could clear only 1.74 metres to finish third, while Lamb went on to win her third New Zealand senior title, clearing 1.82 metres. New Zealand heptathlon champion Portia Bing took the silver medal.
The men’s 5000 meters saw an intriguing battle between Malcolm Hicks and Hugo Beamish with the two racing together for the entire distance until Beamish burst away with 250 metres to go, coming home in 14 minutes 1.09 seconds. Aaron Pulford finished in third.
Otago’s Roseanne Robinson defended her women’s 3000m race walk while Mike Parker from Auckland won the men’s race.