News & Updates

26 February 2022 • Track and Field

Preston defeats Tanner in compelling 800m clash in Christchurch

James Preston is an impressive winner of the men's 800m at the ITM in Christchurch. (Credit: Michael Dawson).

National 800m champion James Preston repelled the challenge of Tokyo Olympian Sam Tanner to provide a rousing finale to the International Track Meet (ITM) – a World Athletics Continental Tour bronze meet – at a blustery and chilly Christchurch today 

Despite the challenging conditions, the 24-year-old Preston still managed to secure the third fastest 800m time in his career and a meet record time of 1:47.31 which sets the Wellington Scottish athlete up nicely for next week’s Jennian Homes New Zealand Track & Field Championships.

On his seasonal debut, Tanner will also be hugely encouraged to have trimmed 0.28 from his lifetime best to clock 1:48.35 for second.

In a tight scrap for third, the 2021 national silver medallist Dominic Devlin edged national U20 champion James Harding by 0.60 to cross the finish line in 1:50.33.

Paced by John Gerber at the bell it was Preston followed closely by Tanner with Harding just a stride behind. Tanner, who is better known for his exploits as a 1500m runner, stuck limpetlike to Preston until the final 100m or so when the 1:46.52 man eased clear and even afforded a little fist pump of joy in the final strides.

“It was very windy, but I was pleased with how I ran,” said Preston. “It was good to race a couple of quick guys out there including Sam, because that quality is probably what I have been lacking so far this season.”

Bolstered by a significant tailwinds the 200m sprinters also helped ignite the International Track Meet at a chilly Nga Puni Wai.

Running his first 200m race since the 2021 edition of the ITM, Christchurch local Tiaan Whelpton recorded a very slick time of 20.70 to claim a crushing win in the men’s 200m. Aided by a huge +4.9m/s wind the long-striding sprinter showed he is a more than handy exponent over the half-lap distance having spent much of the season focused on the 100m distance, where he equalled the New Zealand resident record of 10.18 in Hastings in January.

Whelpton said of his performance: ‘It was pretty good. It was windy today and the goal was just to pick the feet up on the home straight. I’m twice as tired as normal (because he often runs the 100m) but I’m happy with the way I performed.”

Aided by a hefty 3.8m/s wind Georgia Hulls ran a scintillating mark of 23.01 to narrowly retain her unbeaten record in the 200m stretching back to the 2020 National Championships by just 0.02 from Rosie Elliott. Once again illustrating the current riches of female sprinting the pair are sure to feature strongly in next week’s Jennian Homes New Zealand Track & Field Championships as Hulls seeks to defend her national 200m crown and Elliott attempts an audacious 100m, 200m and 400m treble.

With the New Zealand national record of 22.90 held by Monique Williams surely now vulnerable Hulls said: “It was pretty windy, but it was an amazing race with Rosie there the whole way. It was nice to get a hit out before nationals, and I can look forward to Hastings where I will hopefully enjoy some good conditions.” Anna Percy rounded out the top three in a time of 23.82.

Double Olympic bronze medallist Tom Walsh was a little shy of his very best as he took victory in the men’s shot with a best of 20.71m achieved in round three.

Walsh said of his day: “I’d give it a six out of ten. For a few throws I moved pretty well, so it wasn’t all bad. I wanted to throw a little bit further but you always learn from every competition, so it wasn’t all bad news.”

Nick Palmer (Hastings) with a best of 18.09m was the next best in the field.

Tapenisa Havea (South Canterbury) once again excelled in the women’s shot as the 18-year-old unleashed a best throw of 15.63m to come within 29cm of her lifetime best to secure victory.

Natalia Rankin-Chi Tar of Papatoetoe AC – who like Havea has achieved the Athletics NZ performance standard in shot and discus for the World U20 Championships which takes place in Cali, Colombia in August – finished second in 14.10m.

The windy conditions favoured the discus throwers as Tatiana Kaumoana three times surpassed her pre-event PB to fire the 1kg discus out to a sixth round best of 56.51m to climb to fourth on the all-time New Zealand lists. The Te Aroha AC athlete, who is coached by former Commonwealth javelin champion Kim Mickle, put together an outstanding series backed up by a 55.79m in round two and a 55.52m in round five.

Behind, Havea backed up her victory in the women’s shot by placing second in 50.63m with 16-year-old Suzannah Kennelly (Papatoetoe AC) also in PB mood with a best of 47.45m.

A blistering burst of acceleration in the final 200m helped secure victory in the women’s 800m for Christchurch-based Katherine Camp. At the bell it was Macey Hilton, who has recorded a huge new PB of 2:06.87 in midweek, who held a narrow lead from Camp and Kara Macdermid.

However, Camp, the national 800m champion for the past three years, showed all her experience to launched a fearsome kick with the wind at her back and went on to claim a convincing win in 2:08.94. Her University of Canterbury clubmate national U20 champion Rosa Twyford grabbed second in 2:10.32 just by 0.11 clear of Macdermid in third.

A delighted Camp said: “The wind was rough out there today, but I knew if I could get to that last 200m the wind would push me along. That last 200m was pretty good.”

Olympic triathlon bronze medallist Hayden Wilde battled to a pulsating victory from 19-year-old Chanel Muir in a titanic showdown in the men’s mile. In devilishly windy conditions the pair were paced through the first 1000m by Ethan Smolej before the rabbit stepped aside to leave Wilde out front ahead of Muir, the Lovelock Mile winner in January.

Down the back straight of the final lap, Wilde, the New Zealand 5000m champion, appeared to veer out to lane two in an effort to beckon Muir through. Into the home stretch the Christchurch Avon athlete took a narrow lead but the gutsy Wilde would not be denied responding from the inside rail to win by just 0.07 in a time of 4:09.24. Charlie Hazlett, 18, of Port Hills AC outpaced the remainder to claim third on his mile debut of 4:16.04.

Teenager Penelope Salmon gave another demonstration of her endurance gifts by claiming a decisive win in the women’s mile. In tough conditions the long striding Auckland AC athlete proved the pick of the bunch to stop the clock in 4:48.93 to claim top spot from the chasing Tillie Holyer (South Canterbury) in 4:50.73.

Salmon, who earlier this year won national senior 3000m silver, will move on to next week’s Jennian Homes New Zealand Track & Field Championships, where she plans to target the 1500m, with much to look forward to in 2022. The Aucklander has achieved the Athletics NZ performance standard for the World U20 Championships in both the 1500m and 3000m and will begin her university studies at the esteemed Harvard University later this year.  

Rarely in recent times has the men’s hammer overshadowed the women’s event domestically but today it was the former event that enjoyed its time in the sun as national champion Anthony Nobilo (North Harbour Bays) defied the tricky conditions to hurl the hammer out to an impressive 66.44m – a mere 14cm shy of his personal best. Behind, Todd Bates (Athletics Taieri) 53.36m with U20 athlete Liam Ngchok-Wulf (Papakura) posting a PB of 52.85m with the 7.26kg hammer.

In the women’s hammer Tokyo Olympian Lauren Bruce competing into a strong headwind was a little way down on her very best, breaking the turf with a best of 65.88m.

Benefiting from a +3.6m/s wind six-time national champion Josh Hawkins (Auckland City AC) produced a classy clocking of 14.20 to win the men’s 110m hurdles by a click under half-a-second from Jack Henry (Christchurch Old Boys).   

Maggie Jones, 17, of Athletics Whanganui also impressed to win the women’s 100m hurdles in 14.48 (+3.6m/s) by 0.08 from national heptathlon champion Christina Ryan. The performance was significantly under her PB of 14.78m but will not be valid as a PB because of the illegal wind.

Unimpressed by the cold and windy conditions at Nga Puni Wai, Tokyo Olympian Hamish Kerr opted to take a cautious approach to preserve his body for future competitions by winning the men’s high jump in a meet record of 2.10m with his one and only jump.

Keeley O’Hagan (Christchurch Old Boys) maintained her flawless winning record in 2022 by taking out the women’s high jump with a meet record 1.78m.

The Thomson siblings secured victories in the triple jump competitions. Aided by huge tailwinds Scott Thomson secured victory in the men’s triple jump with a best of 14.62 (+4.1m/s) with sister Anna taking out the women’s equivalent with a longest leap of 12.79 (+3.6m/s).

Session one results here

Session two results here