News & Updates

17 March 2023 • Track and Field

Gill and Hobbs provide the grand finale to an epic New Zealand summer of athletics

Jacko Gill defeated Tom Walsh in Auckland tonight with the two best throws of his career. Credit (Alisha Lovrich)

A huge new personal best by Jacko Gill and a New Zealand resident and allcomers 100m record by Zoe Hobbs provided the perfect climax to a golden summer of athletics in New Zealand tonight at the Sir Graeme Douglas International presented by Harcourts Cooper & Co at in West Auckland.

Following an avalanche of national records and world class performances throughout a vintage past few months for New Zealand athletics – our star performers once again shone on a wet and windy night at the Trusts Arena.

The keenly anticipated men’s shot put showdown lived up to its billing as Jacko Gill boomed out a huge new personal best of 22.12m in round one to inflict back-to-back defeats on Tom Walsh following his victory at the national championships.

The 28-year-old Auckland thrower – who exceeded his previous best of 21.90m set when winning silver at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games – in round two tossed out his second best throw of all time, registering a best off 21.92m.

Walsh responded to the Gill challenge with a handy first round throw of 21.79m – within 1cm of his season’s best – in round one but from that point on with the rain starting to fall more heavily both athletes understandably struggled to match their early pyrotechnics.

An elated Gill said: “I’m stoked, I can’t believe it I’m very happy. I have wanted to throw 22 since I was 16, it was always the dream to get 22m.

On why he is currently throwing better than ever he said: “I think my technique has improved quite a bit and I’m really enjoying mum and dad at training and with Dale (Stevenson offering coaching input) overseas. I just have a nice set up that we’ve got going on. I’m enjoying every day.”

Zoe Hobbs has produced a series of awe-inspiring performances over the past two weeks, and she maintained her incredible streak of performances by winning the women’s 100m in a scorching 11.02 (+1.3) to lower her New Zealand resident and allcomers record by 0.05 from the time she posted in Wellington two weeks ago.

The 25-year-old sprinter scalped a tenth of a second from her Oceania record with a stunning 10.97 in Sydney last Saturday and tonight she backed it up despite the the cold and wet conditions to run the fastest legal women’s 100m ever seen in New Zealand.  

Behind, Aussie Bree Masters set a PB of 11.23 in second with her compatriot Ella Connolly (11.35) in third.

Hobbs said: “I didn’t have a lot of expectation coming into this race, I just wanted to have fun and I raced quite late when the weather wasn’t the best.

“I was surprised to hear that time (11.02) because I didn’t have the best start. I rose quite early I didn’t accelerate as deep as I what I hoped. I didn’t think I would run 11.02 so it is pretty reassuring to know I can that time and it wasn’t the perfect race.

“I didn’t expect it. Coming of the back of Sydney was a massive high. But I think it is just part of learning, the more you race the more you are able to back it up.”

The crowd in the main grandstand were treated to a thunderous long jump competition, which witnessed the equalling of the 55-year-old New Zealand allcomers record and the longest jump by a Kiwi long jumper for quarter of a century.

Aussie Liam Adcock secured an thrilling victory with a massive 8.18m (2.3m/s) and with his final effort leap 8.05m (+1.1) to match the allcomers record, which also doubles as the New Zealand record set by Bob Thomas in Whangarei in 1968.

New Zealand champion Shay Veitch launched out to the largest leap of his career a massive 7.99m (+1.1) to tickle that long-standing mark of Thomas and show he has the capabilities of lowering that historic mark. Veitch also went out to a legal 7.98m (+1.6) in round five.

An elated Veitch said: “7.99m in second place sounds a bit gutting, but I couldn’t be more happy.

“It is probably the most fun I’ve had competing in three years. I’ve known its been there all season, it’s just been frustrating trying to hit the marks but today it all came together. The crowds were really engaged, and it was great to bring the Aussie boys over.

“It’s very motivating to jump 7.80m and know it is not going to be enough, so it was an excellent competition. The run up has been a big point of change over the last six months, and it has been a bit variable, so I’m happy and I’m sure my coach Mike Beable will be happy too.”

The wet and windy conditions badly hampered the eagerly awaited women’s pole vault showdown as Eliza McCartney took top spot with 4.46m. Olivia McTaggart, who cleared a new PB and World Championship entry standard of 4.71m at the Auckland Championships on Saturday unfortunately missed out on her opening height as did Imogen Ayris paving the way for McCartney to clear 4.46m and nab top spot.

McCartney said: “Tricky conditions for sure. The warm up was tough and for the girls who started at the lower heights it was raining as well. Rain and wind are not two things that mix well in pole vault. Thankfully, it stopped raining by the time I started to jump, and I managed to sneak over at 4.46m. I don’t know how I did it to be honest, it was a wriggle of a jump. I’m just pleased to have got a height, it wasn’t an easy day today.”

Maddi Wesche gave another strong hint at her outstanding shape by tossing the 4kg shot out to 19.11m – the third longest throw of her career and within 2cm of her season’s best set in Wellington two weeks ago.

The Commonwealth bronze medallist also powered out to 18.91m in round one and a final round 18.97m to underline her form and fitness to claim an emphatic victory in the women’s shot from Tonga’s Atamaama Tuutafaiva (15.99m).

Rosie Elliott gave another demonstration of her domestic dominance of the women’s 400m to surge to victory in a time of 53.22. The national champion, who posted her PB of 52.16 in Whanganui in January, claimed another comfortable victory after kicking off the bend to leave Australia’s Jessie Andrew (55.07) for dust. New Zealand 400m bronze medallist Stella Pearless took third in 55.53.

Australian champion Jake Doran stormed to victory in a high-class men’s 100m, stopping the clock in 10.20 (+0.1) from Japan’s Taju Hongo, who edged a photo-finish to take second from Aussie Jake Penny after both clocked 10.36. Kiwi Hamish Gill ran within 0.02 of his lifetime best to place sixth in 10.41.

Nokomi Tanaka of Japan hung on to claim a narrow victory in the women’s 1500m from the rapidly closing Rebecca Mehra of the USA by a margin of 0.29 in 4:14.46.

Tanaka, the Tokyo Olympic 1500m finalist, surged to the front and opened up a 25m lead but started to tire around the final lap with Mehra closing with every stride. New Zealand champion Laura Nagel was the lead Kiwi, producing another good race to stop the clock in 4:15.57.   

Japan completed the 1500m double as Ryoji Tatezawa eased to victory in 3:42.74 from national 1500m bronze medallist Russell Green (3:46.54).

New Zealand number one Tommy Te Puni proved just too strong to edge a compelling men’s 400m by 0.19 in 47.63 from national champion Lex Revell-Lewis (47.82).

Tokyo Olympian Camille French on the road back to full fitness after giving birth claimed a comprehensive victory in the women’s 5000m in 16:14.35. In the men’s 5000m New Zealand champion Julian Oakley prevailed in 13:58.51. Christian De Vaal, 18, produced an outstanding PB of 14:03.07 to finish third – 0.37 adrift of second placed Matt Taylor.

Double Paralympic long jump champion Anna Grimaldi had an impressive day, finishing fourth in the women’s long jump with a best of 5.87m (+1.7) within 4cm of her lifetime best. The Otago athlete showed great consistency, registering 5.83m (0.0) and 5.84m (+1.2) in the final two rounds. The 26-year-old athlete returned later to post a sparkling 12.67 and cross the finish line first the women’s 100m para race.

After her long jump Grimaldi said: “The first jump was way bigger than I was expecting. I haven’t been out there in two years (to those distances). I was feeling like I had reached where I could go with what I was doing and it was time to look elsewhere to get that extra distance, so I’ve been trying to embed some new things technically.”

The Aussies dominated in the women’s long jump with Annie McGuire a class apart as the 21-year-old posted the five best jumps of the competitions to win with a best of 6.40m (+3.3)

Paralympic shot put champion Lisa Adams unleashed a best of 14.68m to win with a 94.71 percentage within her world record.

Nick Southgate avenged his defeat to James Steyn at the Jennian Homes New Zealand Track & Field Championships to pick up victory in the men’s pole vault with a season’s best of 5.22m. In blustery conditions, Steyn cleared a best of 5.02m while the Australian Champion Dalton Di Medio and Canadian champion Nathan Filipek faltered as both no-heighted.  

Japan’s former World University Games silver medallist Takayuki Kisimoto proved too strong in the men’s 400m hurdles claiming victory in 51.77 from Australia’s Chris Douglas (52.66), a 2022 World Indoor 60m hurdles finalist.

In the women’s equivalent, New Zealand record-holder Portia Bing was inflicted a rare home defeat as Loan Ville of France edged a thrilling battle by 0.15 in 59.48.

There was disappointment for the New Zealand 4x100m relay teams as both the men and the women suffered a first exchange mishap and failed to finish. Australian cruised to victory with the men’s quartet clocking 39.18 and the women’s 43.90.

Results here