News & Updates

26 January 2024 • Track and Field

Balanced Nick dreams of 20m shot

Nick Palmer believes he is now on the verge of joining the 20m shot put club. Credit: (Alisha Lovrich).

In form shot put ace Nick Palmer hopes finding a “better balance” is the key to unlocking the “magic 20m” barrier at the Pak’nSave Cooks Classic on Saturday (27 Jan) as he targets becoming the third New Zealand male athlete after Tom Walsh and Jacko Gill to breach the mark.

The 23-year-old Hawkes Bay-raised and Christchurch-based athlete approaches the meet in Whanganui buzzing after adding 34cm to his lifetime best with a 19.76m throw at last weekend’s Potts Classic in front of his home crowd in Hastings.

Now the 2023 national bronze medallist is seeking to build on that performance and elevate himself to be part of an exclusive club at Cooks Gardens.

Nick, who is currently studying a masters degree in Athlete Development through AUT University, said of the Cooks Classic: “I hope it is a good day, good weather and it goes well for me. If I take care of the little things, then maybe that magic 20m distance will happen this weekend.”

A gifted age group athlete, the Hastings AC thrower won a shot silver medal at the 2017 Commonwealth Youth Games and he represented his country at the 2018 World U20 Championships in Finland.

It took some time to adjust to the senior ranks but his enthusiasm and passion for the sport was re-energised under current coach, Hayden Hall.

Under Hayden’s guidance he started to take steps forward. In 2022 he claimed national bronze with a a PB of 19.04m and he went into the 2023 campaign with high hopes of busting through the 20m barrier.

He opened his year with a PB of 19.16m at the Pre-Potts meet in Hastings but struggled to recapture that form during the remainder of the 2023 domestic season.

“It was disappointing, I was intent on throwing 20m and I was in much better shape than I showed,” he adds. “In some respects, I got in my own way. I was guilty of trying to make it happen too much. So when I went to Europe (later in 2023), I tried to have more fun and relax and it is no coincidence I ended up with a PB.”

Basing himself in Belgium for the most part he bettered his lifetime best in Lucerne, Switzerland with a 19.42m effort. Ending the season on a high acted as a big spur and he added: “Being around 20 metre and 21 metre throwers was eye-opening and it made me realise I had many of the goods needed to succeed at that level.”

Since his return back to New Zealand he has continued to work with Hayden and his mental skills coach John Quinn on a more relaxed approach to his throwing where he has consciously taken a more balanced approach.

Focusing on other outside interests such as his masters degree, coaching at a pair of Christchurch schools and now living with his partner and two dogs has given him value in other areas of his life and this has all played a positive role in his throwing.

“I’m not taking throwing any less serious but just realising that I have more than throwing to give me a sense of self-worth has been really important,” he adds.

Training three gym session, four throws sessions and two circuits a week alongside Commonwealth shot champion and two-time Olympic bronze medallist Tom Walsh has also definitely played a part in his excellent early season form. With Nick admitting Tom’s thorough and professional approach is infectious.

“I get a lot out of working with Tom, but the main thing is his attention to detail,” he adds of the former world champion. “He leaves no stone unturned and pays attention to everything including those little things like turning up on time and what needs to be done in the warm-up. He sets the tone for the squad because of who he is and his resume.”

All the ingredients come together at the Potts Classic when Nick powered the shot out to 19.76m for victory and a sizeable PB – a performance which gave him immense satisfaction.

“For most of that comp it was actually frustrating, but the biggest take away was to know that even when I’m not feeling my best (in the first five rounds his best was 19.04m) I can still have a good day,” he adds. “To be able to deliver in that last round and set a PB at home in front of my family is the high you keep on chasing in the sport.”

Admitting that like any athlete he continues to pursue more, Nick is targeting throwing further during the remainder of the domestic season and beyond.

“That next target is 20m but the cool thing about the tape measure is it never ends, there is always another goal on the horizon. I hope to string together some consistent meets and I hope then to be firing on all cylinders when I head to Europe.

“I love experiencing different crowds in different cities. To be paid to compete in athletics is the best job in the world.”

Watch Nick compete at the Pak’nSave Cooks Classic on Saturday (27 Jan). Livestream details here

All-time top five New Zealand men’s shot putters

Tom Walsh – 22.90m – 2019

Jacko Gill – 22.12m – 2023

Ryan Ballantyne – 19.85m – 2020

Les Mills – 19.80m – 1967

Nick Palmer 19.76m – 2024