Tom Walsh has stunned the athletics world, winning a bronze medal in the shot put at the World Indoor Championships in Poland.
The 22 year old defied all predictions to improve on his New Zealand indoor record three times during the final finishing with a huge 21.26 in the sixth and final round to move into third place.
Walsh had earlier surprised many, making the final with a 20.41 to place sixth, after going into the competition ranked 17th.
Starting the final with two fouls, Walsh threw 20.12 in the third round, before improving to 20.46 in the fourth round, then 20.88 and 21.26.
Walsh commented after the competition that he knew he was in good shape after a week training with world champion Valerie Adams and coach Jean Pierre Egger in Switzerland by was somewhat surprised with the distance and placing he achieved.
Remarkably, the world champs were not only Walsh’s first senior international competition, but also his first ever indoor competition.
The national outdoor record holder (at 20.61) pushed the reigning two times Olympic champion Tomas Majewski of Poland out of the medals in front of his home crowd in the Ergo Stadium in the Polish city of Sopot.
Walsh’s throw of 21.26 beats the Oceania indoor record of 20.83 held by Australian Scott Martin, and equals the best ever by an Oceania athlete, also held by Martin. More significantly, it also propels Walsh into the top ranked athletes in the world in the event. The throw would have ranked him 7th overall in the world for 2013.
The bronze was New Zealand’s first by a male athlete at a world indoor championships and earned Walsh $US10,000 prize money for his substantial efforts.
At the same time on the track, Zane Robertson lead for most of his 3000m heat before finishing in sixth place, setting a new national record of 7:44.16 and qualifying for Monday morning’s final. The previous record was held by Nick Willis at 7:44.90.
Robertson’s effort completed an outstanding day for the Kiwi’s in Sopot with Willis having earlier qualified for the final of the 1500m, looking very comfortable.
Valerie Adams competes in the Shot Put qualifying Saturday evening with the final scheduled for 6.50am (NZ time) on Sunday morning.
Source: Athletics NZ