News & Updates

2 March 2022 • Track and Field

Clash of the titans set to ignite nationals

Jacko Gill is set to make his first appearance of the season at the 2022 Jennian Homes New Zealand Championships where he will be hunting his first senior national title. (Credit: Alisha Lovrich).

The titans of New Zealand shot putting will be on show at the Jennian Homes New Zealand Track & Field Championships in Hastings this weekend.

Tom Walsh will be aiming for his thirteenth straight title in the shot put and his fourteenth overall having won the discus throw title in 2013. It will be the first time this season that he will be up against Jacko Gill, the last time they were in the same competition was at the Tokyo Olympic Games where Walsh won bronze third and Gill was ninth.

Gill has finished with a national senior shot silver medal on four occasions since 2014. He last competed in Italy in August last year where he threw 21.20m. Walsh has competed at four meetings this year in New Zealand with a best throw of 21.26m at the Sir Graeme Douglas International presented by Harcourts Cooper & Co. Also in the senior shot put are Nick Palmer second last year and Ryan Ballantyne second in 2017 and 2018 and third in 2019 and 2020.

Zoe Hobbs will be hoping for favourable conditions in the senior women’s 100m as she seeks to better her time of 11.15 achieved on the Hastings track last month. The A standard for the Commonwealth Games is 11.10 a time she came close to at the Potts Classic with a wind assisted 11.14. Hobbs will be aiming for her sixth straight 100m title and fourth 200m title where she will face defending champion Georgia Hulls, Rosie Elliott and Anna Percy. These three along with Livvy Wilson are also down for the 100m.

Elliott has presented herself with a tough schedule as she will also contest the 400m against last year’s champion Camryn Smart, Isabel Neal and Portia Bing.

Tiaan Whelpton will go up against Eddie Osei-Nketia in the men’s 100m final. Osei-Nketia has taken advantage of the opening of the border to allow those from Australia to travel here without having to self-isolate.

Whelpton equaled the resident record of 10.18 at the Potts Classic on the super-fast Hastings track. In the heats at the Classic meeting Whelpton clocked a wind assisted 10.09. Osei-Nketia, the 2019 and 2020 national champion, has a best time of 10.12 set in Brisbane a year ago.

Whelpton welcomes the opportunity to race the 20-year-old who competed at the 2019 World Championships in Doha.

“I think it is fantastic that Eddie is coming, and I welcome the challenge and it is pretty cool that he’s headed over here and thankfully they’ve taken away the isolation upon arrival,” said Whelpton.

“It would have been a little bit of a hollow victory to call myself national champion, but with him in the race I think that’s fantastic because then we can really find out who is New Zealand’s fastest man. I’m very much looking forward to it,” he added.

Osei-Nketia’s father Gus’ 1994 national record of 10.11 will also come under threat, which Whelpton believes is likely.

“Hastings is a quick track and if the conditions are good who knows maybe we’ll see one of us or even two of us did under that record time,” said Whelpton, who has decided to compete only in the 100m in Hastings.

Defending champion Cody Wilson and 2019 champion Jordan Bolland will challenge each other in the 200m.

High jumper Hamish Kerr, who cleared 2.24m to win his sixth national title last year in Hastings, will be looking to achieve an Athletics NZ World Championship entry standard mark of 2.33m. Josephine Reeves heads into the women’s high jump having won for the last three years. Keeley O’Hagan the 2015 and 2018 champion and Imogen Skelton are the in-form jumpers this season.

Portia Bing has come tantalisingly close to the 400m hurdles World Championship entry standard mark of 55.40. At the Sir Graeme Douglas meeting she cleared the ten hurdles in a national and resident record of 55.50. Bing will be going for a fast time and her fifth straight national title and could eclipse the allcomers record of 55.38 set by Sally Gunnell at the 1990 Auckland Commonwealth Games.

Connor Bell, who last competed in June last year, should retain the discus title as should Anthony Nobilo going for his fourth straight title in the hammer throw. Lauren Bruce , Nicole Bradley and Dyani Shepherd feature in the women’s hammer throw. Bruce, a former national junior hammer throw champion has yet to win a senior title while Bradley has five national hammer titles to her credit.

Scott and Anna Thomson are expected to retain their respective triple jump crowns.

Maddison-Lee Wesche who won in 2017 and 2019 should make it title number three in the women’s shot put. Te Rina Keenan 2017 and 2020 discus champion will be throwing against Savannah Scheen and the rapidly improving Tapenisa Havea for the 2022 title.

Aaron Booth should win his first national decathlon title and Christina Ryan will strive for her fifth title in a row in the heptathlon.

Six times national champion Nick Southgate, 2019 and 2020 champion James Steyn and the defending champion Ettiene Du Preez will face off in the pole vault while Olivia McTaggart and Imogen Ayris will contest the women’s pole vault. McTaggart is within 10cm of a World Championships entry standard height following her personal best 4.60m at Mitre 10 Park in January.

Tori Peeters should make it title number six in the javelin throw and Jared Neighbours with a personal best of 61.84m at the Cooks Classic should win the men’s title. Neighbours was second in 2019 and third last year. Para Athlete Holly Robinson, silver medallist last year will compete in the open javelin throw again.

Also vying for a medal in open completion is Para athlete Anna Grimaldi in the long jump. Three times champion and defending champion Mariah Ririnui, three times champion Kelsey Berryman and Ashleigh Bennett should be heading to the podium at the conclusion of the long jump. Felix McDonald champion in 2020 and Lewis Arthur are the leading jumpers in the men’s long jump.

The middle-distance fields are packed with talent. The 1500m is considered the blue riband event at any national championships and this year’s race will not disappoint with 2017 champion Eric Speakman, 2019 champion Sam Tanner and defending champion and recent 3000m and mile champion Julian Oakley going to the start line. Add in recent sub-four miler Matthew Taylor, third in 2018 and second in the recent mile championship, last year’s junior champion and recent junior mile champion James Harding, Russell Green, Oli Chignell and Ben Wall and we are set for a close race.

Hayden Wilde should comfortably make it a hat-trick of victories in the men’s 5000m. Wilde’s aim is the Birmingham Commonwealth Games where the B standard is 13:23.00.

“I’m going to go out real hard and try and aim for sub 13:40. I’ll put it out there and give it a go. It will see where I am fitness wise and try and push that through to the Night of 5’s where it will be a bigger goal and it will be faster with pacers,” said Wilde after winning the mile in Christchurch on Saturday.

Laura Nagel will be attempting the 1500m, 5000m double. Already this season she has won the 3000m and mile titles.

The 2020 champion Luke Mercieca and the defending champion Hamish Gill will face off in the 400m. James Preston should retain his 800m title ahead of Dominic Devlin and national junior champion James Harding. Katherine Camp will be going for her fourth title in a row in the women’s 800m and will be up against some strong challenges in the home straight from Jennifer Hauke, Holly Manning and Kerry White.

Amy Robertson will not be defending her 100m hurdles title. A hamstring injury sustained at the ITM meeting has ruled her out for the rest of the season. Celine Pearn a 400m hurdles exponent, who was third in the 2020 100m hurdles steps up with a chance of winning her first national title.

Joshua Hawkins should make it title number seven in the 110m hurdles and on current form Jonathan Maples should collect the gold in the 400m hurdles.

Former national junior 3000m steeplechase champion in 2014 and 2015 Anneke Grogan should win her first senior title and George Guerin, Michael Sutton and 2019 and 2020 champion Ieuan van der Peet will complete the podium in the men’s 3000m steeplechase.

Jamie Shaw will contest the 3000m track walk while Courtney Ruske and Laura Langley will go toe to toe in the women’s 3000m and 10,000m track walks.

In the Para events Jaden Movold is down to compete in five events. Anna Steven and Danielle Aitchison will race in the 100m and 200m along with Anna Grimaldi in the 100m. Mitch Joynt should win his 100m while William Stedman competes in the 400m and long jump. Lisa Adams and Holly Robinson are in the shot put and Ben Tuimaseve competes in the shot put with Corran Hanning, who is also in the discus throw.

In the under-20 women’s division Nadia Evans the 2020 under-18 sprint champion will compete in the 100m. Mia Powell and Annalies Kalma will battle out the 200m and 400m. Macey Hilton is down for the 800m as is Penelope Salmon in the 1500m. Natalia Rankin-Chi Tar should complete the shot put discus throw double. Bernice Cullen should collect the gold medals in the long and triple jumps.

In the under-20 men Zachary Saunders will be going for the 100m and 200m and Zane Powell will be seeking the 800m, 1500m double. Lex Revell-Lewis should blitz the 400m field following his personal best 47.49 last month. Challenging hard will be Troy Middleton. Liam Ngchok-Wulf should come away with the golds in the hammer throw and shot put. Angus Lyver heads the long jump while Ethan Gow leads the rankings in the triple jump. Antonia Martin will have the 10,000m and 3000m track walks to herself.

In the under-18 women Talia van Rooyen should win the 100m, Amelie Fairclough will contest the 200m against van Rooyen as well as racing the 400m. Kiera Hall will be going for the 800m/1500m double where she will be up against Rosaria Gibson. Kate Hallie and Suzannah Kennelly are the leading competitors in the shot put and discus while Karmen-Elizabeth Maritz will compete in the javelin throw. Piper Everson is down for the triple jump as is Sophie Hancock in the long jump.

In the under-18 men Ben Lambert and Kadin Taylor should battle out the 100m, Asher Pettengell-Brand is down for the 200m and 400m, James Ford heads the 800m field and Daniel Prescott is odds on favourite for the 1500m. Blessing Sefo will be aiming for the shot put/ discus throw double and Alexander Hewitt should collect the under-18 hammer title. Forbes Kennedy is the leading jumper in the long jump and Luke Moffitt in the triple jump.

By Murray McKinnon