News & Updates
New Zealand toasts a memorable summer of athletics
New Zealand athletics toasted a vintage summer of athletics during a memorable 2023 domestic season and beyond with a series of world-class performance offering huge encouragement ahead of the World Athletics Championships in Budapest in August.
Across four continents and in a variety of events – some nine national senior records tumbled, eight New Zealand resident records were either set or equalled and eight Kiwis achieved World Athletics Championship entry standard marks.
Our Para athletes also sparkled setting a combined 39 national open records with New Zealand’s world-class Para performers rounding into form in the countdown to the World Para Athletics Championships in Paris in July.
The mood was set for an epic few months of action in mid-January when Connor Bell bettered the 21-year national senior men’s discus record with a 66.14m throw at the Potts Classic pre-meet in Hastings.
Operating at a higher echelon throughout the summer the 21-year-old thrower added a further 9cm to his New Zealand record in Geelong, Australia in February, inflicting a confidence-boosting defeat on Commonwealth champion Matt Denny.
A number of our leading athletes sought a higher level of competition on the overseas indoor circuit with Commonwealth champion Hamish Kerr enjoying a flawless campaign.
The 26-year-old high jump ace added 3cm to his national record with a massive 2.34m clearance at Banska Bystrica in Slovakia and he remained unbeaten for the season, climaxing indoors with victory in the World Indoor Tour final in Birmingham – where he was also crowned the overall World Indoor tour champion in the men’s high jump.
On the North American indoor circuit, Kiwi middle-distance runners Sam Tanner and Geordie Beamish both caught the eye with a series of top class performances. Tanner, who ran a world-class 3:31.34 for 1500m at the 2022 Commonwealth Games, smashed his mile PB in Boston with a 3:52.85 and followed this up in the historic Wanamaker Mile in New York to run a swifter 3:51.70 and consolidate his position at that time as number two on the all-time indoor New Zealand mile lists.
Beamish also made a massive impact running a New Zealand 3000m record of 7:36.22 at the Millrose Games – bettering his own national indoor record and running faster than Nick Willis’ outdoor 3000m national record of 7:36.91. The 26-year-old then ran a scintillating 3.51.22 in Boston to dislodge Tanner as New Zealand indoor mile number two and also become the third fastest Kiwi ever for the classic distance behind Sir John Walker and Nick Willis.
In South Africa, Kiwi triple jumping siblings – Welre and Ethan Olivier also made an indelible mark with the former surpassing the 45-year-old men’s senior triple jump record of Phil Wood with a mighty leap of 16.48m in Potchefstroom on February 7. At that same meet, Ethan, the 2022 World U20 fourth place finisher, underlined his huge potential with a 16.22m leap to set national U20/U19 and U18 triple jump records.
It was also a golden summer for women’s sprinting led by the sublime Zoe Hobbs who broke records for fun during an unforgettable two weeks in March. Making her seasonal debut at the Jennian Homes New Zealand Track & Field Championships in Wellington she chipped 0.01 from her Oceania women’s 100m record with a 11.07 clocking in the heats before following this up with a mind-blowing wind-aided time of 10.89 in the final.
Just eight days later in Sydney the 25-year-old speedster then hacked one tenth from her Oceania record to legally smash though the 11-second barrier for the first time in her career, blasting to 10.97. Hobbs maintained her stunning purple patch of form by lowering her New Zealand resident record on a cold, wet night in West Auckland with an 11.02 clocking at the Sir Graeme Douglas International presented by Harcourts Cooper & Co.
Yet Hobbs was not alone in creating headlines in women’s sprinting with the versatile Rosie Elliott dominating the women’s 400m domestically and showing her class over 200m to scalp 0.09 from the New Zealand record of Monique Williams with a time of 22.81 at the ITM in Christchurch. Just 0.03 behind was Georgia Hulls, who also bettered Williams’ 14-year-old mark.
For the past two decades New Zealand shot putting has boasted a formidable record on the international stage and through the first three months of 2023 it has once again emerged to the fore.
Jacko Gill performed at a higher echelon to end the 13-year reign of Tom Walsh as national champion with a 21.80m effort in Wellington. The 28-year-old Aucklander then inflicted defeat on Walsh at the Sir Graeme Douglas International presented by Harcourts Cooper & Co with a personal best of 22.12m. Walsh himself produced his longest throw in New Zealand for five years with a 21.80m effort in Christchurch and he will not lack in motivation to bounce back later in the year.
In the women’s shot put, Commonwealth bronze medallist Maddi Wesche underlined her rich potential for the rest of the year by registering the second and third best competitions performances of her career with a 19.13m at nationals in Wellington and a 19.10m effort at the Trusts Arena in Auckland.
New Zealand’s trio of top-class female pole vaulters all impressed during a summer to remember led by the successful return to competition of Eliza McCartney after several years of injury struggles. The 2016 Rio Olympic bronze medallist claimed her first national title in six years and later achieved the World Championship entry standard of 4.71m in Brisbane before climaxing her confidence-boosting campaign with a 4.75m clearance at the Australian Championships.
However, the first New Zealand vaulter to achieve the entry standard mark was Olivia McTaggart – who set a PB of 4.71m in the process – at the Auckland Championships. Commonwealth bronze medallist Imogen Ayris further demonstrated the strength in depth of women’s domestic vaulting by setting a PB of 4.51m.
The final New Zealand senior national record to tumble this summer was set by Josh Hawkins who trimmed 0.02 from his eight-year-old senior men’s 110m hurdles record with a swift 13.67 clocking for silver at the Aussie Championships in Brisbane. His record-breaking achievement was testament to the quiet resilience and determination shown throughout his career.
The Para athletes also made a big impact with five Tokyo Paralympic medallists also ranked within the top three in the world in their primary events.
Paralympic shot champion Lisa Adams hurled a best of 15.19m – within 31cm of her world F37 world record – and double Paralympic sprint medallist Danielle Aitchison has performed consistently well. Two-time Paralympic long jump medallist Anna Grimaldi has jumped within 4cm of her lifetime best and Will Stedman, winner of Paralympic long jump silver and 400m bronze medals in Tokyo, has showed he is in outstanding form – evidenced by his national T36 400m record of 53.55 in Tauranga in December.
The tier below have also stepped up to a new level with T64 sprinter Mitch Joynt and wheelchair racer Sarah James just two names to catch the eye.
Reflecting on a memorable past few months for the sport Athletics NZ High Performance Director Scott Newman said: “Breakthroughs for multiple athletes and a number of others confirming their world-class status, it has been quite a start to the year. We are very well placed leading into the Northern Hemisphere summer and the World Championships later this year.”
World Championships Entry Standards Achieved
Zoe Hobbs – 100m
Eliza McCartney – Pole Vault
Olivia McTaggart – Pole Vault
Maddi Wesche – Shot Put
Sam Tanner – 1500m (from 2022)
Hamish Kerr – High Jump
Jacko Gill – Shot Put
Tom Walsh – Shot Put
National Records set in 2023
Zoe Hobbs – 100m – 11.07 (also Oceania record) – Mar 3
Zoe Hobbs – 100m – 10.97 (also Oceania record) – Mar 11
Rosie Elliott – 200m – 22.81 – Feb 19
Geordie Beamish – 3000m – 7:36.22 – Feb 11
Hamish Kerr – High Jump – 2.34m – Feb 14
Welre Olivier – Triple Jump – 16.48m – Feb 7
Connor Bell – Men’s discus 66.14m – Jan 18
Connor Bell – Men’s discus 66.23m – Feb 22
Josh Hawkins – Men’s 110m hurdles – 13.67 – Apr 2
NZ Resident records set in 2023
Zoe Hobbs – 100m – 11.07 – Mar 3
Zoe Hobbs – 100m – 11.02 – Mar 16
Rosie Elliott – 200m – 22.81 – Feb 19
Rebekah Greene – Mile – 4:32.92 – Jan 28
Tiaan Whelpton – 100m – 10.18 – equalled the mark twice – Jan 21
Connor Bell – Men’s discus – 66.14m – Jan 18
Josh Hawkins – Men’s 110m hurdles – 13.94 – Mar 5
- Selection Policy Announcement
- Sarah Drought leads New Zealand Half Marathon contenders
- Dates announced for 2024 Jennian Homes New Zealand Track & Field Championships
- New venue announced for 2023 New Zealand Road Relay Championships
- Weekly Round Up: 29 May
- Paris 2024 Olympic Games Nomination Criteria Announced
- New athletes named in the Performance Development Squad