News & Updates

20 May 2022 • High Performance

Defending champions named in Commonwealth Games athletics team for Birmingham

(Photo: Alisha Lovrich)

An exciting 18-strong athletics team for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games has been announced today by the New Zealand Olympic Committee (NZOC) at AUT Millennium.

The team is:

  • Lauren Bruce – Women’s Hammer Throw
  • Julia Ratcliffe – Women’s Hammer Throw
  • Nicole Bradley – Women’s Hammer Throw
  • Olivia McTaggart – Women’s Pole Vault
  • Imogen Ayris – Women’s Pole Vault
  • Maddison Wesche – Women’s Shot Put
  • Tori Peeters – Women’s Javelin
  • Zoe Hobbs – Women’s 100m
  • Portia Bing – Women’s 400m Hurdles
  • Keeley O’Hagan – Women’s High Jump *Conditionally Selected
  • Jacko Gill – Men’s Shot Put
  • Tom Walsh – Men’s Shot Put
  • Hamish Kerr – Men’s High Jump
  • Connor Bell – Men’s Discus
  • Quentin Rew – Men’s 10,000m Race Walk
  • George Beamish – Men’s 5000m
  • Sam Tanner – Men’s 1500 *Conditionally Selected
  • Eric Speakman – Men’s 5,000m *Conditionally Selected

The team – which includes three conditionally selected athletes – combines an exciting blend of youth and experience and boasts no less than eight throwers spearheaded by the two defending New Zealand champions from the Gold Coast 2018 Games – Tom Walsh (men’s shot) and Julia Ratcliffe (women’s hammer).

The two vastly experienced performers will both be making their third Commonwealth Games appearance, and the throwing duo will look to extend their medal streak having both banked silver in their respective events at the Glasgow 2014 Games before climbing the top of the podium in Gold Coast.

Bolstering New Zealand’s powerful throwing stocks in Birmingham, will be shot putter Jacko Gill, who is set for his second Commonwealth Games appearance eight years after making his debut in Glasgow.

For the first time in Commonwealth Games history, New Zealand will have three women’s throwers in the same event at the same Games. Joining Ratcliffe in the women’s hammer are Oceania record-holder and Tokyo Olympian Lauren Bruce, as well as Aucklander Nicole Bradley, who makes her Commonwealth Games debut after cracking the 70m barrier for the first time during the 2021-22 season.

Maddi Wesche, the Tokyo Olympic sixth-place finisher, is selected in the women’s shot hoping to follow in the rich tradition of past New Zealand winners of the title – Val Young and Dame Valerie Adams.

Completing the selected throwers for Birmingham are 2018 Youth Olympic champion Connor Bell, who competes in the men’s discus, and javelin thrower Tori Peeters, who set a New Zealand national record mark of 62.40m in Hastings in March.

Also featuring in Birmingham will be World Indoor high jump bronze medallist Hamish Kerr, who will once again be looking to make an impact at a major international event. New Zealand will also be sending two women’s pole vaulters led by World Indoor sixth-place finisher Olivia McTaggart, who will be making her second Commonwealth Games appearance. She will be joined in Birmingham by her Auckland-based training partner Imogen Ayris.

On the track, sprinter Zoe Hobbs will make her Commonwealth Games debut after enjoying a stellar season when she three times bettered the New Zealand women’s 100m record. Her training partner, New Zealand women’s 400m hurdles record-holder Portia Bing, has also booked her ticket for Birmingham eight years after making her Commonwealth Games debut as part of the women’s 4x400m relay team.

New Zealand Indoor 5000m record-holder Geordie Beamish has been rewarded by winning selection in the 12-and-a-half lap event, and Quentin Rew will feature in the men’s 10,000m track race walk in what will be his second Commonwealth Games.

Three athletes have been conditionally selected subject to meeting their conditions before the deadline on 26 June. These include Keeley O’Hagan, who set a personal best of 1.88m when winning the New Zealand women’s high jump title in March, Tokyo Olympic 1500m runner Sam Tanner and 5000m exponent Eric Speakman.

Defending women’s hammer champion, Julia Ratcliffe said “I never thought as a kid that I would go to three Commonwealth Games, so it blows my mind a little to think how long I’ve been throwing and how far I’ve come! It is always a pleasure to wear the silver fern on my chest and I’m very excited to have another opportunity to represent New Zealand with pride.”

New Zealand high jump record-holder Hamish Kerr said: “I’m incredibly excited for the opportunity to put on the Black Singlet once again. Four years ago, I missed out on Commonwealth selection. I used that disappointment as motivation to prioritise my jumping, so to be named in the team this time around is hugely gratifying. The standard of high jump in the Commonwealth is incredibly high right now, so I look forward to the challenge in August.”

Athletics NZ High Performance Director and Commonwealth Games team leader Scott Newman said: “We’ll head to the Commonwealth Games with high hopes given the mix of experienced internationals and several emerging athletes who will have their first test on the world stage. The high bar set for selection and coming directly from a World Championships, has set this team up for an anticipated strong performance overall.”   

Athletics NZ CEO Pete Pfitzinger said: “We are delighted to be sending such a strong team to the 2022 Commonwealth Games. We have an intriguing team consisting of returning medallists and finalists and athletes making their Games debut. I very much look forward to watching their performances in Birmingham in August.”

NZOC CEO Nicki Nicol extended her congratulations to the athletes.

“Well done to all eighteen athletes selected today. We’re thrilled to be taking such a strong athletics team to Birmingham and can’t wait to watch you earn the fern in two months time,” said Nicol.

The naming takes the total number of athletes currently selected to the New Zealand Team for Birmingham 2022 to 57.

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