News & Updates

2 March 2023 • Track and Field

Nagel claims emotional 5000m win in Wellington

Laura Nagel secures the 5000m title in Wellington after challenging build up. Credit: (Alisha Lovrich)

Laura Nagel defied an anxious build up to light up the first day of the 2023 Jennian Homes New Zealand Track & Field Championships to retain her senior women’s 5000m title with a majestic performance.

Originally from Napier she has endured a “crappy couple of weeks” watching loved ones evacuated from their homes in the wake of Cyclone Gabrielle which wreaked mass destruction on her home city.

Coupled with that a cancellation of her scheduled 1pm flight from Auckland to Wellington led to additional anxiety as she only arrived in the capital around one-and-a-half hours ahead of her start time for the women’s 5000m.

Yet Nagel retained her composure during the final, happy to sit behind Katherine Camp for much for the race before launching her winning attack with a little over two laps to go. For 400m Anneke Grogan (Auckland) her training partner remained in contact but just before the bell Nagel kicked again and could not be caught, clocking 16:40.33 for the race win.

Grogan battled on home to clinch a richly deserved silver in 16:43.68 and Camp was rewarded for her aggressive approach to win bronze in 16:48.25 – and add a 5000m national medal to her combined tally of ten medals over 800m, 1500m and the mile.

“I was feeling anxious the whole week leading into this, with Hawkes Bay and what happened there. My family is fine, but all my family members had to be evacuated. Friends of friends lost everything. It is pretty surreal and when that happens in your hometown and you can’t imagine that happening.”

“On top of everything else the flight was not ideal but the Uber from the airport got me here (to Newtown Park) at 5.01pm.

“To be honest, I owe Katherine a wine,” she adds. “This weekend is about taking it one race at a time, I’ve led enough races in the last year, so I was happy to sit behind Katherine. It’s awesome to retain the title, I never take it for granted, especially this year with a much bigger field than last year.”

Nagel will now move on to the 1500m – where she will aim to complete the “double double” having snared both national titles in Hastings 12 month ago.

Julian Oakley battled the windy conditions at Newtown Park to add the national 5000m title to his 3000m and 10,000m crowns with another impressive display of endurance.

The 29-year-old seized control of the race with three-and-a-half laps to go after long-time leader and training partner Sam Tanner slowed to a jog leaving Oakley in splendid isolation at the front.

From that point on it was a mere procession as the Waikato Bay of Plenty athlete cruised to victory in 13:52.32 with Eric Speakman taking his eighth national track silver medal in 14:02.23 with Connor Melton (Canterbury) repeating his 5000m bronze from last year in a PB of 14:10.98.

After a couple of laps of jogging, Tanner picked up the pace to cross the line in fourth on 14:19.98.

Oakley said: “It is a good to win another title. The goal was 13:30 something but it was tough out there in the wind and coming off world cross and Melbourne and having raced six times in six weeks, but I was trying to get where I was at the end of December. I have no regrets, and I never take winning a national title for granted.”

When asked if it was the pre-race plan for Tanner to pace and then dramatically drop the pace he said: “Yeah, no. The plan was to pace, but still race at the same time.”

Tanner will return for the 1500m heats on Saturday pursuing a third senior national title over the metric mile distance. 

New Zealand’s 800m rock stars James Preston (Wellington) and Brad Mathas (Manawatu-Whanganui) both cruised comfortably through their heats of the senior men’s 800m. Preston, fresh off his 1:45.85 clocking to defeat Mathas by 0.15 at the Maurie Plant Meet in Melbourne seven days ago, looked supreme to land heat one easing down in 1:55.33. Mathas, the eight-time former national champion, looked similarly comfortable taking out heat two in a slightly swifter 1:54.57 ahead of Dominic Devlin (Auckland) in 1:55.26.

The eagerly-anticipated senior men’s 800m final will take place on Friday at 1.45pm.

Laura Langley (Hawkes Bay Gisborne) claimed her third senior women’s 3000m race walking title posting a rock-solid time of 13:56.94 to add to her previous senior national titles snared over the distance in 2017 and 2019.

In the men’s U20 3000m race walk Lucas Martin avenged his defeat to Jonah Cropp (Canterbury) at the New Zealand Secondary Schools Championships in Taranaki in December to clinch an impressive win in a personal best of 12:29.44. The 18-year-old from Manawatu-Whanganui wiped almost eight seconds from his previous best to recapture the title he last won in 2020. Cropp, the 2022 NZ U18 champion, picked up silver in a time of 12:58.60.

Christian de Vaal has forged a fantastic age-group record over the past 18 months or so and further garnished that reputation to dominate the men’s U20 5000m and strike gold in 14:30.15.

The performance also made up for a rare disappointing outing after collapsing of heat exhaustion on the final lap of the U20 race at the World Cross Country Championships in Bathurst, Australia.

Behind, Matt Hill (Waikato Bay of Plenty), the top New Zealand finisher in the men’s U20 race in Bathurst, backed up that display with a 33-second PB of 14:46.03 for silver with Canterbury’s Sam Idiens winning bronze courtesy of a first sub-15-minute 5000m race in 14:57.57.

De Vaal said: “I’m pretty happy with today. I didn’t have a very good performance two weeks ago but I’m happy to come back today, and build up some confidence. To win is the main thing and it does mean a lot considering what happened in Bathurst.”

Running in a pair of borrowed spikes from her main rival, Hannah Prosser delivered an exhilarating win in the women’s U20 5000m final from her Otago team-mate Catherine Lund.

Realising 20 minutes before the start that her spikes were suited for the cross country and not track, Lund generously offered Prosser – who was making her 5000m debut – a spare pair.

However, in a dramatic finale, it was Prosser who showed superior speed to edge to victory by just 0.18 in a time of 16.51.76. Zara Geddes completed an Otago clean sweep of the podium in 17:47.41.

“I don’t do a lot of track racing, I didn’t realise my spikes were too long I am so grateful for Catherine had spares. I knew she was going to be quick after a great race at World Cross (Lund placed 27th in the women’s U20 race in Bathurst).

“I took the pace for the first couple of laps but when she overtook me, I was happy to sit behind because there was no way I could have gone passed her. I’m not a very good sprinter, but I just gave it everything at the end and thankfully it paid off.”

In the U18 division the women’s pole vault served up a heart-warming story as Hawkes Bay Gisborne duo Vaya Chaplow and Angalla Carney picked up gold and silver medals courtesy of PB performances.

Both Vaya and Angalla and their families have been impacted by Cyclone Gabrielle which battered the Hawkes Bay. Vaya admits family members in the Esk Valley could not be contacted in the wake of the cyclone and the incident was hugely “scary.’

Training has been compromised with routine 25-minute trips to Mitre 10 Park taking up to two hours but despite the challenges the pair today thrived with Vaya advancing her PB by 23cm to a gold medal with 3.24m. Angalla added 14cm on to her pre-comp PB to soar clear at 3.14m.

“It is so exciting, we’ve had some tough times, so it is nice to be able to deliver,” added Vaya. While Angalla said: “We feel grateful to come down here and to have been able to give everything.”

Talaya Vorster (Auckland) was also in PB mood, clearing a best of 3.34m to secure victory in the women’s U16 pole vault.

On the track, Alfie Steedman (Auckland), the New Zealand Secondary Schools junior boys 3000m champion and national 3000m U20 silver medallist, added the U18 3000m title to his growing medal collection by outkicking Elliott Pugh (Waikato Bay of Plenty) in a thrilling last lap burn up. Steedman, 15, stopped the clock in 8:39.70 – 0.64 clear of Pugh, who last month finished an excellent 39th in the U20 race at the World Cross Country Championships in Bathurst.

In the women’s equivalent, Southlander Siena Mackley hacked more than 17 seconds from her previous PB to clinch a memorable victory in 10:06.29 and add to the U20 gold medal she snared last year at the New Zealand Mountain Running Champs.

Melelosaline Lose registered an impressive PB of 45.82m in round four to defeat the 2022 champion Suzannah Kennelly (Auckland) 45.30m in a quality head-to-head showdown in the women’s U18 discus.

James Moore produced a brilliant breakthrough performance to unleash a mighty 17.17m to win the men’s U18 shot put. The 16-year-old Cantabrian, who is coached by Kim Mickle, went into the competition with a best of 14.65m but ended it in a whole new realm.

AJ Madonado (Canterbury) claimed a pair of medals, winning the men’s U18 triple jump with a best of 13.64m and later returning to win silver in the men’s 200m in a time of 23.36 – 0.34 behind gold medallist Rylan Noome (Hawkes Bay Gisborne).

Teeka Randell (Waikato Bay of Plenty) with a time of 25.08 – just 0.01 shy of her lifetime best – finished 0.25 clear of Micayla Whiti (Tasman) to claim gold in the women’s 200m.

Noah Retford (Auckland) destroyed his personal best by one than a second to secure gold in 40.09 in the men’s U18 300m hurdles final. Harry Williamson (Canterbury) finished 0.97 adrift to win silver.

Sophie Hancock (Waikato Bay of Plenty) claimed a pair of podiums, dominating the women’s U18 300m hurdles to claim victory in 44.06 and also earning silver in the women’s long jump with a best of 5.55m. Hancock conceding defeat to Auckland’s Charlotte Goldsmith, who soared out to an 8cm PB of 5.73m (0.5).

Alexander Hewitt (Wellington) was a class apart in the men’s U18 hammer to upgrade on the silver medal he won 12 months ago to claim gold with 56.22m.

It was a memorable morning for Rico Poutama who completed the rare U16 shot put and high jump double as the Wellington athlete hurled the shot out to 10.02m and clinched top spot in the latter event on countback with a best of 1.72m. To top his day, he also won bronze in the men’s U16 long jump with a leap of 5.68m.

Results here