News & Updates

24 March 2022 • Track and Field

Co-organiser Laura Nagel triumphs at Daikin Night of 5s

Laura Nagel ends her highly successful campaign with victory in the event she helps organise - the Daikin Night of 5s. Credit: (Alisha Lovrich).

In a fitting climax to the domestic season, arguably the most dominant endurance athlete during the 2022 campaign Laura Nagel claimed a commanding victory at the Daikin Night of 5s – an event she helps organise.

The co-organiser of the meet for the past three years with Paul Hamblyn, this year she found the time in her jam-packed schedule to compete at the event and duly romped to victory in 16:01.94 – her fastest 5000m time for eight years.

Despite a formidable challenge posed by her “Bays Babes” training partner Anneke Grogan and the creeping fatigue of a long and successful season, which saw he capture national titles for the 1500m, mile, 3000m and 5000m, she battled on to earn yet another win. 

Grogan, the national steeplechase champion, put up a strong fight – with Nagel only breaking free in the final 800m – to stop the clock in 16:11.97 and obliterate her previous best by more than half a minute. Olivia Burne, a former winner of this race, claimed third in 16:54.90.

“I felt pretty average today and I’ve been hanging on to this season by a piece of string,” admits Nagel. “I raced a bit much (this season) and I’m looking forward to a bit of a break and a rest and to make some plans for the future.

“The first 2km felt hard and each km felt harder, I kicked to the finish and just trusted my training which has gone well.”

On her busy week she said: “I work at Hockey NZ and events is my job, so I kind of do it in my sleep a little bit I’ve just been trying to prioritise things I’ve also been tapering, so it has been a little bit less stress on the body in terms of workouts. I’m used to being pretty busy, I tend to over commit to a lot of things it was not too difficult (as organiser) and Paul (Hamblyn) did a lot of the work.

“It is awesome (to win here),” she says. “I am obviously slightly biased but it one of the best meets in the country in terms of being participant focused, the music a lot of the fun stuff. It is really cool to finish the season with another good win and another good battle with Anneke and good for the team (Bays Babes).

In a race of high-quality which delivered its goal of setting a flurry of PB’s Oli Chignell produced one of the best performances of his career to win the men’s Blincoe Cup 5000m in a lifetime best of 13:34.82.

The Dunedin-based runner has been relatively quiet this season with the goal to target big 10,000m race in the Northern Hemisphere summer, but tonight on a perfect early autumn night in Auckland’s North Shore, Chignell delivered a masterclass in 5000m running to break clear of his key rivals – Julian Oakley and Hayden Wilde – in the final kilometre and post a near two-second PB.

Oakley closed down on Chignell over the final 400m but could not bridge the gap – although the Tauranga athlete was rewarded with the second fastest time of his career in 13:37.55.

Wilde, the Olympic triathlon bronze medallist, faded over the last two laps but was rewarded with a seasons best mark of 13:43.88.

Behind Cameron Avery registered 14:00.71 for fourth with every athlete from fifth placed Matthew Taylor (North Harbour Bays) in 14:04.90 to 11th setting a PB.

There was a huge reward for 18-year-old Zane Powell (Pakuranga), who posted not only a lifetime best of 14:12.90 for sixth but also banked an Athletics NZ performance standard for the World U20 Championships. Spare a thought, however, for Will Anthony. The Olympic Harrier claimed a six-and-a-half second PB but recording a time of 14:15.08 – he was just eight one hundredths of a second outside of the standard for the World U20 Championships in Cali, Colombia later this year.

Chignell said of his win: “I’m happy but never satisfied. We were hoping to have a good crack at the Commonwealth Games record and the resident record by Nick Willis, so it was not as fast as I’d like but thankfully this is not the be all and end all for me and I’m going overseas.

“Sam Tanner took us through the first two kilometres and then I took up the pace through two of the last three kilometres to push it, which was and the aim tonight for Hayden, Julian and I, it wasn’t about the win, it was just about running fast which is what the Night of 5s is all about.

“I slipped away with around a 1km to go. My plan wasn’t to run away with it, but I started to run 64-second laps and just pulled away.”

Chignell said some have questioned his domestic campaign and why he opted not to run the 5000m at the New Zealand Track & Field Championships but says it is part of a wider plan.

“My plan is to peak for later in the year because I want to go to World Champs. We can run fast in New Zealand but realistically we are not going to be able to run those (qualification) standards in New Zealand. I’m targeting 10,000m qualification and my first race will at the Payton Jordan meet in Stanford followed by the Night of the 10,000m PBs in the UK.”

James Harding created history with a blistering display to win the men’s A 800m in a New Zealand U19 and U20 record of 1:47.96. The 18-year-old from the Whippets Running Project set off with clear intent and before the bell had already surged past the pacemaker on track for a super slick time. Leading by around 15m at 600m he maintained his form impressively to wipe 0.99 from his previous best time to lower the U19 mark previously held by Jason Stewart of 1:48.73 and U20 national record of James Preston (1:48.06).

Behind, Harding’s club-mate Michael Dawson clipped 0.30 from his previous lifetime best set at this meet in 2019, recording 1:49.60 for second. Meanwhile, Luke Hitchcock, 18, butchered his PB to record 1:50.35 and dip below the Athletics NZ performance standard for the World U20 Championships.

For Harding it was redemption after a far from ideal season for the University of Oregon-bound athlete. After the 2021 New Zealand Secondary Schools Track & Field Championships was cancelled the Auckland-based athlete said he struggled for motivation and lost “that drive” he would typically have in training.

Despite winning the New Zealand U20 mile title and national senior 800m silver Harding believed he has not quite matched his ambitions during much of the domestic season and he added: “I didn’t want this season to be a write off – coming into today I wanted to redeem myself in a way I could be proud of.

“I was hoping to go a bit slower for the first 200m, but the pacer went out and I didn’t want to be on my own. I thought I’d track him down. I got to 400m in 52 (seconds), and I thought we are on for a good time, so I tried to hold it down the back straight and with 200m to go I gave whatever I had left. I’m pretty stoked.

“I had been targeting those records, although I wasn’t expecting the U20 mark. Getting both of them takes a lot of pressure off for next year and I can focus on competitive racing when I get over to Oregon (at the University of Oregon in August).”

Holly Manning (Hastings AC) maintained her unbeaten record over the two-lap distance in 2022 but was pushed every inch of the way by Jennifer Hauke in an absorbing 800m duel.

Manning, the national champion, running from the front managed to repel Hauke (Papakura) in a time of 2:04.07 just shy of PB of 2:03.76 with the latter athlete smashing her previous best by more than a second to record a rapid 2:04:56.

Rosa Twyford, the 2021 national U20 800m champion, finished just a smidgen outside of her personal best in 2:06.86 with reigning national cross country champion Kerry White posting a PB of 2:07.78 in fourth.

“I felt I didn’t go out hard enough today which was unfortunate because it was a good opportunity to run really fast but I’m still happy with the time,” she said. “I’m happy with everything because Jennie was right up there, and Camryn (Smart) did a great job pacemaking.”

Competing in her first competition since placing ninth at the Tokyo Olympics, Julia Ratcliffe opened her competitive year with a bang launching the hammer out to mighty sixth round toss of 72.33 – within 1.22m of her lifetime best.

The 28-year-old hammer exponent has opted to start her season late following the stresses and demands of competing at last year’s rescheduled Tokyo Olympics and was rewarded with the fifth best competition throw of her career.

Opening with a foul, in round two Julia unleashed a 70.71m effort to establish control of the competition. A 70.05m effort in round was sandwiched between red flags in the third and fifth stanza before she saved her best until last to complete a highly satisfactory return to the competitive environment for the Hamilton City Hawks athlete.

Nicole Bradley of North Harbour Bays, who has enjoyed an outstanding season joining the “70m club” was today slightly down on her very best, registering a best distance of 67.85m in round four.  

“I’m definitely happy with that,” said Julia. “I was a bit tense for my first throw and even though the weather is unpredictable, it is perfect weather for throwing – warm with a bit of wet circle which is really fast. I’m probably suited to when the circle dried out a bit more and as the competition progressed is when I started to find my groove.

“I’m pleased with how it come together. I came into this competition a lot calmer than past comps, I’m just trying to take the stress out and bring a more light-heartedness to the event.”

New Zealand men’s hammer champion Anthony Nobilo (North Harbour Bays) once again produced a dominant display with a best of 66.15m – just a little over half-a-metre down on his lifetime best achieved earlier this month in Hastings.

It was also raining PB’s in the men’s 100m as Jordan Bolland (Takapuna) proved too strong for the opposition, blasting to 10.60 (1.2m/s) to trim 0.04 from his previous best, recorded back in 2019.

Behind, former New Zealand U20 100m champion Tommy Te Puni grabbed second in 10.70 – a PB by 0.04 – with current national U20 champion Zachary Saunders just shy of his lifetime best in 10.72.

Versatile Isabel Neal enjoyed a memorable night to post a pair of PB’s and defeat the 100m specialists in the women’s open event. Neal (North Harbour Bays) bagged 400m silver and 200m bronze at the Jennian Homes New Zealand Track & Field Championships in Hastings earlier this month but showed she is also very effective over the 100m distance, wiping 38 hundredths from her 100m best with 11.90 (0.3m/s) in the heats before improving on that time a little later to secure the finals win in 10.82 (-0.1m/s). 

Behind, national U18 champion Talia Van Rooyen, 15, once again demonstrated her rich ability by placing second in 11.97 with New Zealand U20 champion Marielle Venida grabbing third in 11.99.

In the men’s discus, national senior champion Connor Bell competing in only his second competition of the season after breaking his ankle late last year achieved a best of 58.81m. In the women’s discus, Tatiana Kaumoana (Te Aroha) avenged her defeat at the hands of TeRina Keenan at the national championships earlier this month to win with a best throw of 53.16 to Keenan’s best mark of 51.39m. Sionnan Murphy, 17, bettered her national U18/U19 and U20 discus F37 record with a best of 21.58m.

Keeley O’Hagan climaxed her perfect season with a ninth win from nine starts in the women’s high jump, soaring clear at 1.80m to bank yet another victory. The 28-year-old Christchurch-based who is part of the same training group as World Indoor bronze medallist Hamish Kerr made a huge breakthrough at the Jennian Homes New Zealand Track & Field Championships with a 1.88m PB and Commonwealth Games B Performance Standard and can he huge satisfied with her efforts this season.

The one-two from the men’s U20 high jump at the Jennian Homes New Zealand Track & Field Championships finished in the same order today as Jayden Williamson (North Harbour Bays) edged Rafe Couillault (Papakura) on countback with both clearing a best of 1.98m.

Former national champion Imogen Ayris no-heighted at 4.30m leaving the door ajar for Aria Rhodes (North Harbour Bays) to win on countback with a best clearance of 3.60m.

National champion Nick Southgate (North Harbour Bays) cleared a smart 5.20m to match his season’s best and bag victory in the men’s pole vault.

Double Paralympic medallist Danielle Aitchison (T36) took out the women’s para 100m on percentages clocking a time of 14.40 (2.1m/s) with fellow Tokyo Paralympian Anna Steven (North Harbour Bays) second in 13.78.

Joe Smith T37 edged the men’s para 100m on percentages, recording 12.23 with Mitch Joynt T64 in 11.97 just shy of his PB for second.