News & Updates

17 February 2024 • Track and Field

International dimension set to ignite ITM24

Rosie Elliott and Georgia Hulls produced an historic 200m race at the 2023 ITM and their re-match - against a strong international line up - will provide one of the highlights of the 2024 edition. Credit: (Alisha Lovrich).

A galaxy of more than 90 international athletes from 16 countries will take on the best domestic talent at the ITM in Christchurch – a World Athletics Continental Tour bronze meet – on Saturday (24 February).

New Zealand middle-distance star Sam Tanner has been one of the stars of the 2023-24 domestic season having swept to the New Zealand mile and 3000m titles. In Christchurch the 23-year-old steps down in distance to target the 800m and will seek to better his PB of 1:48.35 set at this meet two years ago. The Kiwi will face powerful opposition led by Luke Boyes of Australia, who set a PB of 1:46.43 in Melbourne on Thursday, and Kentaro Usuda of Japan – a 1:46.17 800m runner. The meet record of 1:47.31 of James Preston could also be in jeopardy.

Twelve months ago sprint duo Rosie Elliott and Georgia Hulls ignited the 2023 ITM as the pair advanced to one-two on the all-time NZ lists by running a 22.81 and 22.84, respectively. The showdown between the 2023 World Championships representatives at Nga Puna Wai promises to be a cracker and add into the mix Australia’s Ella Connolly, a sub-23-second athletes and 2022 Commonwealth finalist, and the half-lap event should provide one of the track highlights of the meet.

Lauren Bruce, who first competed at ITM 15 years ago as a schoolgirl sprint relay runner, will be taking to the hammer circle in the 2024 iteration looking to step up her preparations for the Paris Olympic Games. The Oceania record-holder in unbeaten for the season and may have half-an-eye on her two-year-old meet record of 71.22m, but she may not have matters all in own way as faces six-time Belgian champion Vanessa Sterckendries, who has a lifetime best of 69.91m.

One of the meets outstanding events is a mouthwatering men’s discus showdown between the 2022 Commonwealth Games one-two Matt Denny of Australia and Great Britain’s former Olympic finalist Lawrence Okoye. Denny, a fourth-place finisher at the Tokyo Olympics and 2023 World Championships, will be smarting after recent back-to-back defeats to New Zealand record-holder Connor Bell in Adelaide and Melbourne and will be keen to show what is made of to a Kiwi audience. Okoye, the current European bronze medallist, boasts a PB of 68.24m and will present formidable opposition.

Home favourite Keeley O’Hagan, the 2022 Commonwealth Games sixth-place finisher, will face a strong international and domestic challenge in the women’s high jump with Australian teenager Erin Shaw, a 1.90m jumper at her best, presenting the chief opposition. A six-strong Japanese contingent are expected to dominate the men’s high jump led by the 2022 World Championship eighth place finisher and Asian Games bronze medallist Tomohiro Shinno, a 2.31m performer at his best.

The horizontal jumps are expected to serve up some of the best of the action with the men’s long jump featuring no less than four 8m plus jumper led by Japanese champion Hibiki Tsuha. The event presents a great opportunity for New Zealand champion Shay Veitch, who has a best of 7.99m, to crack the eight-metre barrier.

The women’s equivalent boasts two-time Olympic finalist and Oceania record-holder Brooke Buschkuehl 7.13m of Australia – a winner of the ITM back in 2013 – as she takes on her compatriot Samantha Dale (6.71m), the reigning national champion, in a high-quality event.

The presence of the South African-based New Zealand all-time one-two in the men’s triple jump – Ethan and Welre Olivier – in their first competition in this country is a huge boost for the event. Yet the pair have not been served up a juicy half-volley for their opening competition as they battle five other men with a PB in excess of 16m. Ethan, 18, is the current New Zealand record-holder with a best of 16.67m. The New Zealand resident record of 15.94m set by Dave Norris in 1965 looks vulnerable.

The cream of New Zealand Para talent will also be in action with World and Paralympic shot put F37 champion Lisa Adams competing in her speciality event. Look out too for World Para shot F46 silver medallist Holly Robinson, who is in great form having posted a national record of 11.74m in Canberra last month.

World Para 200m T36 gold medallist Danielle Aitchison rocketed to within 0.04 of the world 100m record and recorded a hand-timed 200m mark well under the existing world 200m record at the Porritt Classic earlier this month. Entered in both the Para 100m and the 200m in Christchurch, it will make compelling viewing to see how the 22-year-old sprinter performs at ITM. Fresh off a national record time of 25.15 in the 200m T36 in Hamilton earlier this month, World Para long jump and 400m T36 silver medallist Will Stedman competes in the Para 100m, Para 200m and men’s long jump.

ITM Athlete Director Craig Motley said: “We’re really excited to see the quality of athletes that we have been able to attract to this event, which demonstrates the value and profile that comes with being one of the high profile meets on the Oceania leg of the World Athletics Continental Tour. It’s fantastic to have representation from Australia, Belgium, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, Great Britain, Hong Kong, Ireland, Japan, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Nigeria, Samoa, Singapore, and USA who will look to provide out top Kiwi athletes with strong competition at home.”

Public entries are still available online until midnight on 19 February for the Represent Footwear 5km Run.

The 5km road race takes place at midday on 24 Feb, starting and finishing on the track immediately before ITM.

Gates open 10am for pre-meet, ITM starts at 1pm. Tickets available online or at the gate