News & Updates

14 September 2023 • High Performance

Kiwi athletes hope to provide rousing crescendo to season in Diamond League Final

Sam Tanner is one of six New Zealand athletes set to compete in the Diamond League Final in Eugene. Credit: Michael Dawson

Six Kiwi athletes hope to provide a fitting finale to their respective seasons by competing in the season-ending Diamond League Final in Eugene, Oregon on Sunday-Monday 17-18 September.

The presence of half-a-dozen athletes in the final – a record number of Kiwis in the Diamond League Final athletes – is reflective of the growing strength in depth of New Zealand athletes across a range of disciplines.

Athletes qualify for the final – which offers a lucrative first prize of US$30,000 for each Diamond League winner in Eugene – by achieving points throughout the course of the 2023 Diamond League season.

Leading the New Zealand challenge is Tom Walsh, a three-time former Diamond League men’s shot put champion. The 31-year-old Christchurch-based thrower has enjoyed an excellent season on the Diamond League circuit and topped the qualifiers into the final with a total of 27 pts after earning podium finishes in Florence, Lausanne, Silesia and London. In the latter competition, Walsh posted his longest throw for four years with a mighty 22.58m and as he showed with a 22.46m throw in Zagreb, Croatia last weekend he is in excellent form leading into his final event of the season.

He will face a mighty challenge from the World and Olympic champion Ryan Crouser. Also competing are the World Championship silver and bronze medallists Leonardo Fabbri of Italy and Joe Kovacs of the USA.

Walsh said: “I’m excited about this weekend, the end of the season has been good for me and I feel like I’ve been in pretty good shape to finish the year well with a really nice show. I still have some unfinished business from the World Champs to attend to and it will a ding-dong battle with the six of us here on Monday (morning NZ time), I’m really looking forward to finishing the season well.”

Hamish Kerr qualified an impressive third into the men’s high jump final aided by victory in the Stockholm Diamond League and boosted by placing second thanks to his huge 2.33m clearance – the second best jump of his career – in his most recent Diamond League appearance in Zurich.

Disappointed to miss out on a final spot at the World Athletics Championships, the 27-year-old Christchurch-based athlete has a real chance to end his campaign on a high at Hayward Field. Among his chief opposition will be 2023 World Championships silver medallist JuVaughn Harrison of the US and World Indoor champion Sanghyeok Woo of South Korea.

Hamish Kerr said: “I am stoked to have another opportunity to compete at the top level which is cool and I know there is some good jumps left in my legs, as has been evident over the last couple of weeks which is exciting. I’m also channelling the fact it will be my last high-level comp for a number of months and I am just grateful for an opportunity to compete. I look forward to one last hit out before heading home.”

George Beamish was one of New Zealand’s star performers at the World Athletics Championships, finishing a magnificent fifth in the men’s 3000m steeplechase final in what was only his eighth senior race over the barriers, and the US-based athlete will get another opportunity to take on the world’s best in Eugene. Beamish, who lowered the 39-year-old national steeplechase record with a time of 8:13.26 when fifth at the Monaco Diamond League, faces a stellar field, which includes World and Olympic champion Soufiane El Bakkali of Morocco.

Papamoa-based Sam Tanner takes to the track in the men’s mile. The 23-year-old World Championship semi-finalist placed an impressive fifth in the 1500m at both the Lausanne and Silesia Diamond Leagues – setting a PB of 3:31.24 in the latter event. Tanner has built up a lot of experience on the European circuit this season and will relish the chance to take on the Olympic 1500m champions Jakob Ingebrigtsen of Norway.

Zoe Hobbs has performed exceptionally well throughout the Diamond League campaign to earn her spot in the women’s 100m final. The 26-year-old Kiwi has raced in five Diamond League races this season earning a best position of fourth last weekend in Brussels – her most recent outing on the star-studded one-day circuit. Among her main opposition in a mouthwatering race will be World champion Sha’Carri Richardson of the US, world 100m silver medallist Shericka Jackson and her fellow Jamaican Elaine Thompson-Herah, the Olympic 100m champion. 

The final Kiwi to take compete in Oregon is Tori Peeters, who competes in the women’s javelin Peeters set a national record of 63.26m in Yokohama in May and claimed her maiden Diamond League podium when third in Silesia. World champion Haruka Kitaguchi of Japan will be among the lead contenders.

Athletics NZ High Performance Director Scott Newman said: “I cannot recall more than one or two New Zealand athletes appearing at a Diamond League Final before, so to have six competing reinforces the world-class depth we currently have within our programme.

“To earn a place in the final requires consistent high-level performances throughout the season, which is what this group of athletes have demonstrated. Several of the competing athletes in Eugene have enjoyed a breakthrough season and leading into Olympic year we are working from a strong base.”

When the Kiwis are competing (all times NZ)

Sunday 17 September 
6.00am – Tori Peeters – Women’s Javelin
6.08am – Hamish Kerr – Men’s High Jump
8.19am – George Beamish – Men’s 3000m steeplechase
8.40am – Zoe Hobbs – Women’s 100m
8.50am – Sam Tanner – Men’s mile

Live on TVNZ+ from 7am-9am

Monday 18 September
9.09am – Tom Walsh – Men’s shot

Live on TVNZ+ from 7am-10am

Check out the results here