News & Updates

21 January 2021 • Track and Field

Host of highlights in store at Potts Classic

Dame Valerie Adams is set to get her season underway at the Potts Classic (Photo: Alisha Lovrich)

With so many top-class athletes in action at the Potts Track and Field Classic meeting on Saturday, there are a host of highlights to look forward to at Mitre 10 Park Hawke’s Bay.

The return of Eliza McCartney, Zoe Hobbs looking to continue her scorching form, the head-to-head between Lauren Bruce and Julia Ratcliffe, and a 3000m field packed full of quality are all among the features while the likes of Dame Valerie Adams, Tom Walsh, Eddie Osei-Nketia and Camille Buscomb are also set to strut their stuff in Hastings.

Pole vaulting sensation McCartney, who has been plagued by injury, last competed in the Australian city of Cairns in mid-2019. She was in top form prior to this, having set a New Zealand all comers and resident record of 4.85m at the Potts Classic meeting earlier that year.

The Rio Olympic Games bronze medalist holds the New Zealand national record of 4.94m, set in Germany in July 2018.

The Hastings venue has proved favourable for pole vaulters with Olivia McTaggart and Imogen Ayris enjoying competing at the facility in past years. McTaggart and Ayris both made it into the top 50 in the world last year with personal best clearances of 4.50m, which ranks them fourth in the Commonwealth. The standard for entry to the Olympic Games is 4.70m.

James Steyn and Ettiene Du Preez will meanwhile line up for the men’s pole vault.

The field events will also come alight in the women’s hammer throw with Lauren Bruce and Julia Ratcliffe, ranked one and two in the Commonwealth, set to come up against each other. Nicole Bradley, ranked number four in the Commonwealth, will also be in action.

Last year in Hastings, Ratcliffe set a New Zealand all comers and resident record of 69.94m, which she improved a month later to 70.76m and 72.35m. Bruce achieved an Olympic qualifier in September last year at the Hastings Athletic Club spring series with a Oceania and New Zealand record of 73.47m.

National champion Anthony Nobilo is meanwhile down to compete in the men’s hammer throw.

Tom Walsh and Ryan Ballantyne are set to battle it out in the shot put. Walsh won last year with 21.10m with Ballantyne in second after sending the shot out to 19.33m. Nick Palmer will provide a local hero for the Hawke’s Bay crowd to get behind.

Dame Valerie Adams will meanwhile open her season of competition in the women’s shot. At last year’s meeting, Dame Valerie won with 18.65m from Maddison-Lee Wesche, who is set to return for another crack.

Leading Commonwealth women’s thrower Tori Peeters heads the javelin field.

On the track, the sprinting will be hotly-contested in both the men and women. The Hastings track is renowned for fast times and one of the best fields outside a national championship will relish the opportunity to post career-best times.

Eddie Osei-Nketia – the national under-20, 19 and 18 record holder at 10.19 – will be up against five-times national champion Joseph Millar, national junior champion Tommy Te Puni, Hamish Gill, Tiaan Whelpton, James Guthrie Croft, Cody Wilson, Zachary Saunders and Mogammad Smith.

Zoe Hobbs, fresh from her New Zealand 100m resident record of 11.35 last weekend in Auckland, could lower the time further given favourable conditions. In 2019 in Hastings, Hobbs clocked a then resident record of 11.37 and last year won in 11.38.

Hobbs is making no predictions as to the outcome this time.

“I don’t want to put a number to it, I’m just trying to practice what we’re working on in training,” she says.

“Hopefully, there will be an improvement from last week as my start wasn’t as strong as what I would have hoped for so I will try and fix that up.”

The New Zealand 3000m championship will be held in conjunction with the meeting. Eric Speakman of Napier is aiming for the title following his classy 5000m performance just prior to Christmas on Auckland’s North Shore of 13:31.84. Speakman has a best of 7:58.85 from a race in Ireland in 2016.

The 3000m has attracted one of the best fields for some time.

A talented group including three-times previous 3000m champion Hamish Carson, George Beamish, who clocked 7:44.67 in the States last February, national road champion Matt Baxter, who has a best of 7:47.85, Julian Oakley, who ran 7:44.34 three years ago, the rapidly improving Sam Tanner, who holds the New Zealand under-20 record of 7:57.57, and Hayden Wilde, the national 5000m champion who has a best of 7:59.15, will make for an interesting seven-and-a-half laps.

Former local runner Matthew Taylor is defending the title he won in Hastings last year in 8:29.44.

Kara Macdermid, Jean Kozyniak, Anneke Grogan and three-times New Zealand mountain running champion Sabrina Grogan are the four leading runners entered in the women’s 3000m championship. Macdermid was second in 2019 and also runner-up in last season’s 1500m. Anneke Grogan was third last year and second in the 10,000m championship.

Katherine Camp will be looking for a three-peat in the women’s 800m, raced in memory of Sylvia Potts. Her winning time last year was 2:06.87. Camille Buscomb is moving down in distance to compete in the memorial race. Buscomb last raced over 800m in 2014 in a time of 2:08.21. She was fourth at the Potts Classic back in 2013. Also entered is Otago runner Rebekah Greene who has a best of 2:05.58.

National under-20 800m record holder James Preston, Benjamin Wall and Zach Bellamy should battle out the men’s 800m.

The 400m has attracted Rowan Blaikie, Bailey Cotton, Brayden Grant and Kairon Pimm in the men and Tayla Brunger, Holly Rule and Alessandra Macdonald in the women. Cameron French will take part in the 400m hurdles.

Connor Bell, who came within 27cm of the New Zealand resident discus record of 63.57m last weekend in Tauranga, will be targeting that mark again in competing against national champion Alexander Parkinson. The women’s discus will also hold plenty of attention with Te Rina Keenan, Savannah Scheen, Kaia Tupu-South and Tatiana Kaumoana all entered.

Mariah Ririnui, Briana Stephenson, Kelsey Berryman, Ashleigh Bennett and Zoe Taylor will compete in the women’s long jump, Anna Thomson in the triple jump and, in the men’s long jump, Charles Annals and Matthew Wyatt are set to square off. Annals and Scott Thomson are in the triple jump.

Alana Barber will set out bright and early at 7am around the track in a 20,000m walk. In October, Barber completed a 10,000m track walk in 49:37.54 and in November won the national 20km road title in 1:40:44.

The Potts Classic will be live streamed on the Sky Sport Next YouTube channel. The live streaming will cover the elite hammer from 2pm before taking a break and returning at 4.30pm for an action-packed evening of track and field.

Please note the live streaming coverage will prioritise the permit meets.

Hammer live streaming link:

Main coverage live streaming link:

To view the start lists and results please click here

For more information please go to the Potts Classic Facebook page

Potts Classic, including New Zealand 3000m Senior Championship
Saturday 23 January
Mitre 10 Park Hawke’s Bay, Hastings
Free admission (gold coin donation to Cancer Society)
Live streaming on Sky Sport Next YouTube channel from 2pm