Dame Valerie Adams And Tom Walsh Wrap-up Day 1 Of The Jennian Homes NZ Track & Field Championships
Edward Osei-Nketia bounced back from the disappointment of defeat last week to retain his senior men’s national 100m title in exhilarating fashion at a chilly and wind-battered day one of the Jennian Homes New Zealand Track & Field Championships in Christchurch
The Auckland sprint ace suffered a shock defeat to Cantabrian teenager Tiaan Whelpton at the Capital Classic but chose a “mind dump” session inspired by All Black great Richie McCaw to refocus on the defence of his national title.
The 18-year-old sprint prodigy, who last year represented New Zealand at the 2019 Doha World Championships, produced the performance he knew he was capable of to stop the clock in 10.46 (-0.2m/s), 0.07 clear of Hamish Gill (Auckland) in chilly temperatures. Whelpton collected the bronze in 10.71.
“Last week when Tiaan beat me got me focused,” explains Eddie. “I recently watched the movie “Chasing Great” on Richie McCaw and after he lost when playing for the All Blacks against France at the 2007 World Cup he did some mind dumping, so I thought I should do that after a tough race. The next day I went for a walk in Wellington and cleared my mind.
“I’m okay with a 10.46 into a minus headwind, it was really cold and it was an okay race,” he says. “All I did was sing, sing, sing (Eddie sings in his head during the race), held my form and stayed relaxed.
“To win back-to-back New Zealand titles feels really special.”
Tom Walsh claimed an 11th straight national shot put title to match his championship best performance of 12 months ago with a season’s best of 21.70m on his home track.
The 2019 World bronze medallist launched the shot out to his best throw in round four to finish clear of Jacko Gill (Auckland) who took silver with a rock solid 21.07m on his seasonal debut.
However, Walsh felt a little frustrated he did not produce a little more in his final competition of the domestic season.
“It’s quite frustrating at the moment, I’m training really well but just can’t quite translate it into the shot circle,” he says. “It is a timing issue and it happens every year but this one seems to be hanging around for a bit longer. But I had four really good attempts at it and four out of six times on a windy night is not the worst result.”
Ryan Ballantyne (Canterbury) rounded out the podium in bronze with a best of 19.82m – just 3cm shy of his personal best set at the Capital Classic last week.
Dame Valerie Adams was denied the victory she craved courtesy of a dramatic sixth round effort by birthday girl Brittany Crew, although the Kiwi had the consolation of securing her 16th national shot put title.
The Canadian Crew, who finished eighth at the 2019 World Championships and today celebrated her 26th birthday, took an early first round lead with an 18.49m effort shading Adams opening heave by 4cm.
But Adams found her range in round two and let out a clap of approval with an 18.73m effort as she came within 8cm of her season’s best to assume control of the competition.
Adams appeared all set to bounce back from the disappointment of finishing second to Crew’s fellow Canadian Sarah Mitton at the Sir Graeme Douglas International in Auckland until Crew denied her by hurling the metal orb out to 18.88m to dislodge Adams from top spot.
The two-time Olympic champion responded with an 18.60m put in the final stanza but could not produce the counter-punch she required and had to settle for second.
Sarah Mitton, who was such an impressive winner in Auckland, had to settle for third on this occasion with a best of 17.81m.
Adams, who now sits one national shot put title shy of the 17-time champion Val Young, said: “It was consistent, I’ve just got to keep working on it. It was awesome to have Brittany and the Canadians here to add a bit of depth to the event. Another national title, I can’t complain. Last year I was here heavily pregnant and coaching my sister (Para shot world champion Lisa Adams) and now I’m back again tomorrow coaching my sister. Happy days!”
Commonwealth champion Julia Ratcliffe climaxed her highly successful domestic campaign by securing her fifth national hammer title to surpass 70m for the third competition in succession.
Last month the Waikato Bay of Plenty athlete fired the hammer out to a mighty Oceania record of 72.35m at the Porritt Classic and the 26-year-old followed that up with a 70.31m performance at a blustery Nga Puna Wai.
For Ratcliffe the move back to her home region in the Waikato from Wellington to focus on her training for the Tokyo Olympic Games with her coach and father, Dave, has clearly worked. She may be 15cm shy of the Olympic qualification mark but is clearly in the form of her life.
“Given the conditions I’m absolutely happy,” she says. “It is a bit annoying because we are chasing qualification marks in conditions that aren’t conducive to throwing far. There is definitely more in the tank and it is a shame I couldn’t get the qualification mark, but you have to just turn up and do your best.”
Lauren Bruce (Canterbury) grabbed silver with 63.08m, with Auckland’s 2019 champion Nicole Bradley in bronze (61.51m).
Zoe Hobbs retained her status as the Queen of New Zealand sprinting with another exemplary performance in the final of the senior women’s 100m.
The 22-year-old Auckland-based athlete secured a fourth successive national 100m crown by blitzing to a time of 11.47 in chilly conditions with a 1.3m/s tailwind.
Hobbs finished 0.19 clear of the impressive Rosie Elliott, who posted a PB of 11.66 in silver with Georgia Hulls (Hawkes Bay) – 0.02 further back equalling her personal best in bronze.
“I’ve had tough conditions all season, so I’ve shown up today with quite low expectations,” she explains. “Although, it was good I had a cross tail wind when for the majority of races (this season) I’ve faced a headwind.
“I felt really good in the heat (when recording 11.46 albeit with a huge tailwind) but I was freezing cold for the final and I didn’t execute the way I would have liked. But I guess you have to roll with the conditions and to win four (100m) titles in a row is really special.”
Triathlete Hayden Wilde won a thrilling senior men’s 5000m final by defeating the defending champion Matt Baxter in an absorbing contest.
The pair kicked clear of the field at around two-third distance but it was the 22-year-old Wilde (Waikato Bay of Plenty) who had the superior speed down the home stretch to dethrone Baxter (Taranaki) of the title by 0.79 in 14:13.86.
Cameron Graves (Auckland) completed the podium in bronze (14:31.10). The women’s 5000m title went to Rebekah Greene (Otago) in 16:51.66.
On a busy night in the field, Hamish Kerr (Canterbury) collected his fifth New Zealand senior men’s high jump title with a best of 2.16m.
The action on day two of the Jennian Homes New Zealand Track & Field Championships at Nga Puna Wai in Christchurch starts at 9am.