News & Updates

22 February 2024 • Track and Field

ITM set to dazzle amid record-breaking international fields

Australian Desleigh Owusu set a meet and stadium record of 13.38m en route to triple jump victory at last year’s ITM and is one of a host of international names set to compete at the 2024 edition.

The 2024 ITM is one of the most keenly anticipated in its history. We give you the full event lowdown and what to expect from the World Athletics Continental Tour Bronze meet.

Event Background

Launched in 2009 after a plea made by New Zealand’s double Olympic 1500m medallist Nick Willis for more international meets in his homeland the ITM now has a firm place as one of New Zealand’s premier one-day domestic meets.

The event survived losing its home at QEII Stadium in 2011 following the earthquake which devastated the region with event organisers adopting an agile approach to keeping the ITM running during several challenging years.

Now hosted at the new all-weather facility at Nga Puna Wai the future looks bright future for an event – one of only two in New Zealand which holds World Athletics Continental Tour Bronze status.

Who is competing?

A stellar international line up competing against the cream of domestic talent looks all set to produce a firecracker of a 15th edition of the ITM in Christchurch. Many meet and stadium records look set to tumble as 90 overseas athletes from 16 countries compete to guarantee some of the finest international fields ever assembled for a one-day meet in New Zealand.

One of the highlights will be the women’s 200m re-match between Kiwi pair Rosie Elliott and Georgia Hulls who at the 2023 edition catapulted to number one and two on the all-time New Zealand lists in a record-breaking encounter. On that occasion Elliott ran a New Zealand record of 22.81 to edge Hulls by just 0.03 and their clash again on Saturday will provide an eagerly anticipated encounter. Mix in the added ingredient of a powerful international line up, led by Australia’s 2022 Commonwealth 200m finalist Ella Connolly (22.95), and we could be set for something special.

One of the main Kiwi stars on show is middle-distance ace Sam Tanner, who takes a step down in distance to tackle the men’s 800m. The 23-year-old Athletics Tauranga athlete has snared both the New Zealand mile and 3000m titles this season and will be keen to give his two-lap PB of 1:48.35, which he set at this meet in 2022, a nudge.

In a strong international line-up, Aussie Luke Boyes, who set a PB of 1:46.43 in Melbourne last week, and Kentaro Usuda (1:46.17) of Japan will be major threats and the meet and stadium record of James Preston at 1:47.31 could be vulnerable.

Oceania record-holder Lauren Bruce will look to maintain her unbeaten 2024 against a competitive international field in the women’s hammer. Bruce, who has claimed three wins from three so far this season, will have half-an-eye on her meet record of 71.22m as she takes on six-time Belgian champion Vanessa Streckendries (69.91m).

The presence of the all-time New Zealand men’s triple jump one-two- siblings Ethan and Welre Olivier – will provide a major boost to a top-quality competition which boasts no less then seven

16m plus jumpers. South African-based Ethan and Welre have selected ITM for the first stop on their four-meet New Zealand tour with Ethan dislodging his older brother as national record-holder with a 16.67m effort in Brussels last year. Both will want to make a big impact in front of home crowd with the 59-year-old New Zealand resident record of Dave Norris (15.94m) a prime target. The Olivier brothers’ task will not be straight forward with Aussie Aiden Hinson, who set a meet and stadium record of 16.72m on his way to victory at the 2023 ITM, among the opposition. Defending champion Desleigh Owusu of Australia is one of five women in the women’s triple jump to have a 13 metre plus PB in what looks like another quality horizontal jump competition at Nga Puna Wai.

International athletes will be expected to dominate a classy-looking men’s discus which features six 60m plus throwers. Expect the action at the sharp end to be dominated by Commonwealth champion Matt Denny (68.43m), who placed fourth at the 2023 World Championships and Tokyo Olympics, up against Great Britain’s European bronze medallist Lawrence Okoye (68.24m).

The stadium and meet record of Connor Bell of 64.65m could be a target.

Athletes from four continents are represented in the women’s discus led by Nigerian champion Ashley Anumba (61.98m) and Oceania champion Taryn Gollshewsky (61.05m). Anticipate the stadium record of 56.51m held by Taitiana Kaumoana to be re-written.

Both long jump competitions look set to provide some mouthwatering competition with four eight metre plus athletes entered in the men’s event. Australia’s Liam Adcock, who equalled the New Zealand all-comers record with 8.05m at the Sir Graeme Douglas International presented by Harcourts Cooper & Co, last year, and Japan’s Hibiki Tsuha (8.23m) will be prominent. Leading the New Zealand challenge is national champion Shay Veitch (7.99m), who will be seeking to break the eight-metre barrier as well as targeting the 56-year-old national record of 8.05m set by Bob Thomas.

Oceania record-holder and two-time Olympic finalist Brooke Buschkuehl with a world-class best of 7.13m leads the contenders in a women’s long jump brimming with top-quality athletes. Australian Buschkuehl was an ITM winner some 11 years ago and with her presence alongside her countrywoman Samantha Dale (6.71m) and Japan’s 2019 Asian silver medallist Ayaka Kora expect the meet record of 6.06m and stadium record of 6.08m to tumble.

Meet and stadium records could also fall in the women’s high jump as a strong domestic line up clashes with a powerful international field. Leading the home challenge is Commonwealth Games sixth placer finisher Keeley O’Hagan (1.89m) alongside Imogen Skelton (1.86m) and the in-form national high jump silver medallist Maddie Wilson, who set a high jump PB of 1.86m en route to a stunning gold medal success in the heptathlon with a huge new PB at the New Zealand Combined Events Championships last weekend. Australia’s Oceania champion Erin Shaw (1.90m) and her countrywoman Emily Whelan (1.87m) also compete with Wilson’s meet record of 1.82m and the stadium record of Josephine Reeves (1.84m) ripe for a reset.

Japan provides the top six ranked athletes in the men’s high jump with 2022 World Championship eighth placer Tomohiro Shinno (2.31m) and recently crowned national indoor champion Takashi Eto (2.30m) more than capable for bettering the meet record of 2.20m and stadium record of 2.26m both currently held by Hamish Kerr.

On the track, World Para 200m gold medallist and 100m silver medallist Danielle Aitchison will look to back up her outstanding performance at the Porritt Classic earlier this month with an outing over both distances. In Hamilton earlier this momth she blitzed to a national 100m T36 record of 13.65 to come within 0.04 of the world record. Meanwhile, in the 200m she recorded a hand-timed mark under the existing world record. World Para 400m and long jump T36 silver medallist Will Stedman competes over in the 100m, 200m and long jump fresh off a national record in the latter event earlier this month.

Back to the track and the men’s sprints could be set to be dominated by a strong Japanese contingent. In the men’s 100m Taju Hongo (10.12) and Hiroto Fujiwara (10.21) will look to impress with the meet and stadium record of 10.25 Tiaan Whelpton a potential target. In the men’s 200m, expect Japanese athletes Jun Yamashita (20.40), and World University Games silver medallist Yudai Nishi (20.43) to come to the fore. Lex Revell-Lewis, who set a PB of 21.04 last weekend, leads the domestic challengers.

The fastest two athletes listed in the women’s 100m are Asian U20 bronze medallist Mei Kodama (11.24) and Commonwealth Games 4x100m bronze medallist, Ella Connolly (11.25). Livvy Wilson is the quickest New Zealander entered.

New Zealand record-holder Josh Hawkins faces a formidable overseas field from four countries in the men’s 110m hurdles led by Aussie duo Nick Andrews (13.59) and recent victor at the Melbourne Maurie Plant meet Tayleb Willis (13.79). If conditions are right and Hawkins enjoys a clean run his New Zealand resident record of 13.94m could be lowered.

Beijing Olympian and 12.43 performer Queen Claye is the glamour athlete entered in a highly anticipated women’s 100m hurdles. The 35-year-old American is perhaps not quite the force of old but a solid 13.16 performance in Melbourne last week puts her in the mix. Other sub-13-second athletes entered are Hannah Jones (12.91) of Australia and Japan’s Chisato Kiyoyama (12.96).

An all-New Zealand field should provide a highly competitive women’s 800m led by former national champion Holly Manning (2:03.76). New Zealand mile champion Rebekah Aitkenhead (2:05.28) fresh off a PB 5000m run in Melbourne last week steps down in distance while Stella Pearless and Rosa Twyford will also be competitive.

Two-time Olympic finalist and former World U20 champion Natalia Duco of Chile (18.80m) heads the field in the women’s shot alongside Canadian indoor champion Grace Tennant (17.11m). Christchurch-based Nick Palmer (19.76m) will be chasing that elusive 20m throw in the men’s shot put. World Para shot T46 silver medallist Holly Robinson, who posted a national record of 11.74m in Canberra last month, is also in action.

How to watch

The 2024 ITM will be livestreamed from 1pm on Saturday here

For live results go here

For the full event programme go here