News & Updates

7 August 2022 • Track and Field

Julia banks hammer silver to climb another Commonwealth podium

(Photo: Alisha Lovrich)

Julia Ratcliffe lit up the penultimate day of action at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games banking hammer silver with a best of 69.63m to claim a third successive Commonwealth medal following silver in Glasgow 2014 and gold in Gold Coast four years ago.

The Hamilton-raised hammer ace could not dislodge Canada’s World Championships silver medallist Camryn Rogers, who claimed victory with a monster 74.14m, however Julia can take huge pride in her efforts as she becomes only the sixth New Zealander in track and field history to win medals at three straight Commonwealth Games.

Nicole Bradley, the other Kiwi finalist, could not quite find her very best form and placed ninth with a best of 63.10m achieved with her second attempt.

The defending champion seized a first round lead with a handy 67.26m and the Kiwi strengthened her position at the top of the leaderboard in round two as she hurled the hammer out to 69.59m. Rogers, however, was experiencing technical gremlins, recording successive fouls and she was faced with the very real prospect of a premature elimination.

However, Rogers is a class act and in round three the hammer sailed out to a massive 74.14m with Julia relegated to provisional silver despite the Kiwi marginally improving her best distance with 69.63m.

There was no change at the top of the leaderboard during a largely featureless round four and five as Julia registered successive fouls. For her final effort, and already assured of the silver medal, she recorded a valid mark of 66.93m but it was no improvement. Rogers showed her fantastic ability in the final round by powering the hammer out to 73.89m to take a deserved gold medal. Her fellow Canadian Jillian Weir grabbed bronze with a best of 67.35m.

For Nicole, the Oceania champion, it was a respectable Commonwealth Games debut. The 30-year-old Aucklander opened up a 60.96m and followed this up with her best of the day – a 63.10m in the second stanza – to sit seventh overall. However, two competitors surpassed this mark in the third round and as the five-time national champion could not improve her position with a 61.33m effort in round three she remained in ninth, missing out on further participation in the competition.

“It was so, so cool to have that roar of the crowd egging you,” said Julia. “I had lots of friends and family in the crowd, and I even changed shoes halfway through to a plaster pair to try and get a bit more speed, I just wanted to leave it all out there. It nearly paid off with that fifth throw, I was so close it just went out the side I nearly got there, but that’s alright silver is not a bad back up.

“There was quite a few fouls out there tonight, so it was cool to be able to soak up that experience and nail a couple of throws early as it really took the pressure off.”

On Camryn Rogers performance she said: “She is a little pocket rocket, a lovely person, so it is really cool for her to throw far. I was a bit worried for her (after she registered two fouls) she is usually like so consistent. But she showed outstanding composure out there to nail a 74m throw.”

Geordie Beamish produced his most accomplished performance in a Black Singlet to finish an outstanding sixth in a high-class men’s 5000m – which boasted the two fastest men in the world this year and the Commonwealth 10,000m champion Jacob Kiplimo of Uganda.

The 25-year-old Hawke’s Bay raised athlete finished with his trademark kick to stop the clock in 13:21.71 and can gain enormous satisfaction from his efforts in a thrilling race won by Uganda’s Jacob Kiplimo in 13:08:08, who completed the 5000m and 10,000m double here in Birmingham.

The Kenyan trio of athletes controlled what was a relatively slow-run first half of the race and when the field hit the 3000m split in 8:01 – Geordie was still attached to the back of an 11-strong lead pack.

As the pace started to crank up, the race splintered and he lost contact with the strong African challenge at the front but with 1km remaining he had moved up to ninth,

In a strong finish to his 12-and-a-half lap quest, the US-based athlete entered the home straight in seventh but accelerated past the English athlete Patrick Dever into sixth place having completed the final 1km in a swift 2:35.

“It was a step in the right direction to be a part of the New Zealand team and to compete here in this incredible stadium,” added Geordie.

“I was feeling pretty good for the majority, pretty comfortable, but then the Kenyans really turned it on the last mile, and I lost a bit of contact with the second group. The top three are probably in a different league, but I thought I probably could have got fourth I should have hung on to those next couple of athletes (the fourth and fifth place finishers).

“I got stuck in no man’s land (in the last four laps) with a bit of wind for a while, but I had a good last lap, so I’m not too disappointed.”

Portia Bing, the first ever Kiwi to reach a women’s 400m hurdles final at a Commonwealth Games, placed seventh in 56.36.

It was always a huge challenge for Portia running in the outside lane, but running with aggression and intent she made a solid start over the first 100m and was holding off the threat of England’s Jessie Knight on her immediate inside.

The New Zealand 400m hurdles record-holder flowed nicely down the back straight and enjoyed a good final bend still in the medal hunt leading into the home straight.

However, in a dramatic finale to the race in which several of the key positions switched several times, Portia eventually placed seventh in a race won by Jamaican Janieve Russell, who successfully defended her title in a time of 54.14.

‘It was a huge experience. When I saw the draw, I knew running in lane nine would be difficult being chased by girls that run 53 low 54 high. I had to go out hard. It was a massive learning experience but only in a really positive way, although this is one of those things that you can’t recreate at home.”

On her efforts over the past few weeks both the World Championships in Eugene and at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games she said: “I’m absolutely happy. The World Championships and Commonwealth Games were my two goals this year. I’m up against girls who are professionals, athletics is not my full-time professional job, so to be able to compete at this level makes me really excited.”

The final two Kiwis in action inside the Alexandra Stadium compete on Sunday night NZ time

10.20pm – Quentin Rew – Men’s 10,000m track walk

10.35pm – Tori Peeters – Women’s javelin final

For full results go here.