News & Updates

10 June 2022 • Track and Field

New Zealand banks golden treble

James Harding wins the Oceania U20 1500m title in a championship record. (Credit: Alan McDonald).

A team of eight New Zealand athletes harvested three gold medals, one silver and two bronze medal and posted two championship records and a national U20 record on a memorable day four of the Oceania Area Championships in Mackay.

Leading the way was World U20 Championship-bound middle-distance athlete James Harding, who earned a confidence boosting win to out-kick the opposition and snag the men’s U20 1500m title in a championship record time.

The New Zealand U20 mile champion and national U20 800m record-holder bided his time in a tactical race before unleashing a blistering burst of speed from the inside rail to claim gold in 3:59.73 – finishing 0.07 clear of Aussie Mitchel Langborne.

James, 18, who is hoping to complete the middle-distance double tomorrow (Saturday) in the 800m tomorrow, said: “I am pretty stoked, I didn’t have the best build up and I’ve had a few shocking races but I managed to put it together today.

“The first 100m was 20 seconds, slower than I was expecting. I was up against some class Aussies, so to close out the last 300m in 41 seconds and take out the championship record, I’m pleased with that.

“I have some big plans for tomorrow running the 800m. I’ve done both events (the 800m and 1500m) before at nationals so I feel like I’m well equipped to cope. Winning today is huge ahead of the worlds (U20s) in Colombia in five or six weeks’ time. A big confidence boost.”

New Zealand secured a shot put double in the U20 age division as Liam Ngchok-Wulf and Natalia Rankin-Chi Tar earned top spot on the podium.

The John Eden-coached pair enjoyed differing victories with Liam elevating himself from fourth to gold with a magical final put of 17.37m in the sixth round. Australia duo Jason Parmaxidis (17.26m) and Angus Alberts (17.25m) had to settle for silver and bronze. Kiwi Max Abbot placed sixth with a best throw of 14.89m.

Liam said: “I wanted to get one out in the first round and try and build but I couldn’t get it until my last throw when I just had to go for it

“It means a lot to me (to win the Oceania title). I’ve been working really hard for this one. It will be my last U20 comp leading into the seniors next year.”

By contrast Natalia Rankin-Chi Tar led from the first round and was unsurpassed as she was crowned Oceania champion with a dominant display.

The 18-year-old Aucklander led from her first round throw of 13.52m, extended her advantage out to 14.19m in round two before unleashing her best effort of 14.37m with her third attempt. As a measure of her dominance Australian silver medallist Kaitlyn Coulter was almost a full metre down with a best of 13.40m.

A delighted Natalia, who has been selected to compete for New Zealand in the World U20 Championships in Cali, Colombia in August, said: “It is pretty amazing, the atmosphere is cool and the girls that I competed against were really nice. I did see Liam’s last throw and it did motivate me. I think today has set me up really well for World U20s, the distance wasn’t great but I’ll take it.”

With one mighty boom of her right arm, Abbey Moody smashed through the 50m barrier for the first time to claim a breakthrough silver medal in the women’s U20 javelin.

The New Zealand U20 javelin champion came into the competition with a PB of 46.90m but a monster 50.42m effort in round two rose her javelin status to a whole new stratosphere.

Australian Mackenzie Mielczarek took gold with a championship record of 54.64m.

Abbey, who originally hails from Picton but is based in Canterbury, said: “Honestly, coming in I did want to PB. I hadn’t been throwing well in the couple of competitions previously but hearing that 50 meters felt like everything came together.

“It was so exciting. I just felt like everyone was watching back home and I know the emotions they would be feeling. It is so exciting to throw how I wanted.

Sionnan Murphy enjoyed a dream competition by bettering her own women’s U18/U19 and U20 discus F37 record on three occasions, launching the 1kg implement out to a best of 22.16m at the Oceania Area Championships in Mackay.

The 17-year-old Aucklander, who finished fourth overall in the Para women’s discus, started the competition with a bang adding 20cm on to her national record set at the Night of 5s meet in March with an eye-catching opener of 21.78m.

In round three, Sionnan fired the discus out to 22.14m to breach the 22m barrier for the first time in her career before adding 2cm on to this mark with her sixth round effort.

Australian athletes snared the three medals in the competition led by Sarah Edmiston F44 who hurled the discus out to 33.79 – but nothing could contain the post-competition joy of Sionann.

“I am really stoked with my overall performance and it was a great way to end the competition with a 22.16m. It is a PB for me and a new national record which is a bonus, I just hope I make New Zealand proud.”

When asked about what contributed to her dream competition she adds: “I prepared myself better mentally and I was in a better headspace. I went into the competition determined not become frustrated and just have fun with a good positive attitude.

“Tomorrow I have the shot put and it feel like today has given me a lot more confidence.”

Emma Ferguson claimed bronze in the women’s U20 1500m. The 17-year-old of Feilding Moa Harriers was a little way short of her absolute best but a time of 4:43.01 earned a bronze medal behind Australian Hayley Kitching who set a swift championship record of 4:19.47.

New Zealand U20 100m silver medallist Nadia Evans added the Oceania U20 100m bronze medallist, stopping the clock in 12.17 (0.2)

The 17-year-old Aucklander was rewarded with precious metal in a high-class race won by Australian Hayley Reynolds in a championship record of 11.70.

For full results go here

For the guide to when the Kiwis are competing on Saturday 10 June go here

To follow the livestream of the action go here