Tom Walsh backed up his stunning World Indoor bronze medal just two weeks earlier to better his own New Zealand outdoor national record with an outstanding 21.16m en route to victory at the IAAF World Challenge event in Melbourne.
The rising Kiwi shot put star produced the five longest throws of the competition – achieving beyond 20m with his quintet of valid attempts – to totally dominate.
His fourth round throw added a further 0.55cm to the New Zealand outdoor record he set at the same Lakeside Stadium venue back in December. He also bettered the old mark with a 20.70m throw in round six.
Tom, who had thrown a national indoor record 21.26m in Sopot, was delighted with his performance which elevates him to second on the 2014 outdoor world lists on a chilly afternoon in Melbourne.
“I’m happy to back up my performance at World Indoors with another 21m throw,” he explained. “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.”
Tom had flown straight from Poland into Melbourne after the World Indoor Championships and had enjoyed a good ten days of so training in the Victorian capital.
Attention now switches to the New Zealand Track & Field Championships next week and his eagerly awaited clash with two-time World Junior champion Jacko Gill.
“Training has gone well since I got back from Sopot and hopefully I can get close to 21m at nationals next week,” admitted Tom, 22, of the forthcoming battle in Wellington.
Valerie Adams racked up a 45th successive victory as New Zealand secured the shot put double at the most prestigious annual one-day athletics meeting staged in the southern hemisphere.
Having flown in from Europe just a few days before the event she was fatigued and a little short of her absolute best but a second round effort of 19.68m allowed her to comfortably secure the win and extend her staggering unbeaten sequence which stretches back to August 2010.
“It was one of my worst competitions for a while but a win’s a win,” she explains. “As an athlete I want perfection but sometimes that’s how it goes. I’ve just got back from Europe and really wanted to be here to support Oceania athletics.”
Michael Cochrane secured a third Kiwi victory of the night taking a victory in a competitive men’s 400m hurdles, but frustratingly fell just 0.04 shy of the Commonwealth Games B standard.
The 22-year-old Tauranga athlete, who had come within 0.02 of attaining the standard in Perth last month, held off a late charge by Australia’s Tristan Thomas to take the victory by 0.10 in 49.74.
“I was drawn out in lane six and went out way too fast,” admitted Michael. “It was far from the perfect race but I had the energy to bring it home,” he explains. “I was gutted to be 0.04 off the Commonwealth time, but I’ll get it next time.”
Reigning New Zealand 400m hurdles champion Daniel O’Shea (Hill City) wound up fourth in 50.57 while Cameron French (Hamilton City) was disappointed to place fifth in 51.76 – having registered a personal best of 50.39 in Sydney the previous week.
Rosa Flanagan’s record breaking season continued here in Melbourne as she hacked almost ten seconds from her 3000m steeplechase personal best to become the fastest ever Kiwi under-20 athlete for the event.
The 18-year-old from Christchurch last week recorded 10:06.87 to win at the Australian junior championships, but in a higher class field today she built on that performance to run a stunning 9:56.97 to place second.
As a measure of the quality of the run the time she recorded today at the Lakeside Stadium would have been good enough to have placed her fifth at the 2012 World Junior Championships.
The only slight disappointment was the fact Rosa had to settle for second, having looked set for the win after her chief rival Victoria Mitchell took a tumble in the final water jump.
Rosa, who had been running alongside Mitchell until the Aussie’s mishap, held a 10m lead coming into the home stretch but the vastly experienced 31-year-old Australian international and 2008 Olympian recovered to take the victory in 9:56.23.
After hugging her coach Maria Hassan in jubilation after the race, Rosa said: “I felt really good to have quick athletes to run with. It has allowed me to run much faster.
“The goal today was just to sit with the top athletes and not worry about lap times. I’m really happy.”
Among the other Kiwi athletes competing in Melbourne included Hamish Carson, who gave a good account of himself to finish third in the men’s 1500m. The long-haired Wellington Scottish runner ran positively challenging the Kenyan winner James Magut for big chunks of the race before fading in the final 200m to finish third in 3:42.83.
In the men’s 5000m Malcolm Hicks (Wesley) produced a dogged run to place third in the men’s 5000m in a respectable 13:47.21 – a little under three-and-a-half seconds outside his lifetime best. Kenyan Isiah Koech took the race win in 13:29.05.
Fiona Morrison produced a solid performance to place fourth in the women’s 100m hurdle behind the race winner Sally Pearson, the Olympic champion from Australia.
The three Kiwis in the women’s 1500m were a little short of their best in a race won by Kenyan Mercy Cherono, the World 5000m silver medallist, in 4:08.57. Double Commonwealth Games silver medallist Nicki Hamblin (North Harbour) placed sixth in 4:14.19 with Camille Buscomb (Hamilton City) tenth in 4:18.88. Lucy van Dalen (Wanganui) the 2012 Olympic 1500m runner was one place further back stopping the clock in 4:20.18.
By Steve Landells in Melbourne
New Zealand Results
800m: 1 Duane Solomon USA 1:45.17, 9 Brad Mathas NZL 1:52.71.
1500m: 1 James Magut KEN 3:40.39, 3 Hamish Carson NZL 3:42.83.
5000m: 1 Isiah Koech KEN 13:29.05, 3 Malcolm Hicks NZL 13:47.21.
400m hurdles: 1 Michael Cochrane NZL 49.74, 4 Daniel O’Shea NZL50.57, 5 Cameron French NZL 51.76.
Shot Put: 1 Tom Walsh NZL 21.16.
1500m: 1 Mercy Cherono KEN 4:08.57, 6 Nikki Hamblin NZL 4:14.19, 10 Camille Buscomb NZL 4:18.88, 11 Lucy Van Dalen NZL 4:20.18.
110m hurdles: 1 Sally Pearson AUS 12.83, 4 Fiona Morrison NZL 13.54.
3000m steplechase: 1 Victoria Mitchell AUS 9:56.23, 2 Rosa Flanagan NZL 9:56.97 (NZ U20 & U19 record), 5 Sarah McSweeney NZL 10:27.01.
High Jump: 1 Eleanor Patterson AUS, 1.92m. 5 Sarah Cowley NZL 1.80, 7 Liz Lamb NZL 1.80.
Triple Jump: 1 Linda Leverton AUS 13.36, 6 Nneka Okpala NZL 12.28.
Shot Put: 1 Valerie Adams NZL 19.68.
Source: Athletics NZ
Related: Athletics New Zealand Website
Related: Melbourne Track Classic Results