News & Updates

29 July 2021 • General

Preview | NZ athletics at the Olympic Games

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 20: Nicholas Willis of New Zealand celebrates after winning bronze in the Men's 1500 meter Final on Day 15 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on August 20, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Check out our full Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games preview and when you can watch the 13 Kiwi athletes who will be proudly wearing the Black Singlet.

Friday July 30 – Day One of the athletics programme

Morning session

12:15 (NZ time) – Men’s High Jump qualification

Hamish Kerr is the first male New Zealand high jumper to appear at an Olympic Games since Glenn Howard at Sydney 2000. The Auckland-raised, Christchurch-based high jumper has enjoyed the best year of his career – setting an outright New Zealand high jump record of 2.31m in Wellington in February. He is currently ranked joint number ten in the world lists and will be hoping to successfully navigate a route to the final.

Evening Session

22:00 – Women’s 5000m heats

Camille Buscomb will be proudly flying the New Zealand flag in the 5000m. The Hamilton Hawks athlete set a PB of 14:58.59 to finish 12th in the final of the 2019 World Championships in Doha, so she has the pedigree to advance from the heats. The 31-year-old boasts a season’s best of 15:23.90 set in Oslo in July.

22:25 – Women’s shot put qualification

The first New Zealand woman to appear at five Olympic Games in track and field, Dame Valerie Adams will be seeking to make more history in Tokyo. The mum-of-two finished seventh on her Olympic debut at the 2004 Athens Games before winning back-to-back gold medals in Beijing and London. She then earned more success at the Rio Olympics, winning a silver medal. The Kiwi sporting icon hurled her longest throw for five years with an outstanding 19.75m effort in her final pre-Olympic competition at the Kamila Skolimowska Throwing Festival in Poland, and she also claimed a confidence-boosting first Diamond League win in five years in Stockholm earlier this month.

Also competing for New Zealand is the 22-year-old 2018 World U20 champion Maddison-Lee Wesche. The Aucklander is rounding into form at exactly the right time, throwing back-to-back PBs of 18.40m and 18.47m at the two Oceania Invitational events on the Gold Coast in June.

Sunday August 1 – Day Three

Morning Session

12:10 – Women’s Hammer Throw qualification – Group A
1:40 – Women’s Hammer Throw qualification – Group B

In Commonwealth champion Julia Ratcliffe and New Zealand record-holder Lauren Bruce, New Zealand are blessed with a pair of quality hammer throwers more than capable of earning safe passage into the final.

Julia, 28, makes her Olympic debut buoyed by setting a national record of 73.55m – since surpassed by Lauren – at the New Zealand Championships in Hastings in March. Hamilton-based Julia boasts an excellent championship pedigree having also won 2014 Commonwealth Games silver and 2015 World University Games bronze medals.

Lauren made a huge breakthrough to add more than five metres to her PB and set a then national record of 73.47m in Hastings in September last year. The 24-year-old Christchurch-based thrower in May wrestled back her national and Oceania record from Julia with a monster effort of 74.61m in Tucson, Arizona in May.

Lauren is currently tenth on the World Lists and Julia 17th.

13:35 – Women’s Shot Put Final

Possible involvement from Dame Valerie Adams and Maddison-Lee Wesche.

Evening Session

22:10 – Men’s High Jump Final

Possible involvement Hamish Kerr.

Monday Aug 2 – Day Four (note, the below is early hours of Tuesday Aug 3)

Evening Session

0:40 Women’s 5000m final

Possible involvement Camille Buscomb.

Tuesday August 3 – Day Five

Morning Session

12:05 Men’s 1500m heats

Nick Willis will compete at his fifth Olympic Games. The 38-year-old veteran, who originally hails from the Hutt Valley, will be seeking to qualify for a fourth successive Olympic 1500m final – having won silver at the 2008 Beijing Games and bronze at Rio 2016 (he also finished ninth at the London 2012 Olympics). His season’s best time is 3:38.43 and earlier this year he set a record-breaking 19 successive years achieving a sub-four-minute mile.

Some 18 years Willis’ junior, New Zealand’s other 1500m representative is rising middle-distance star Sam Tanner. The US-based athlete, who originally hails from Papamoa, set a national indoor record of 3:34.72 at Staten Island, New York in February to gain the automatic entry standard to the Tokyo Olympics. In June he placed tenth in the highly competitive NCCA 1500m final.

22:15 – Men’s shot put qualification – Group A
23:40 – Men’s shot put qualification – Group B

Arguably, New Zealand’s strongest event internationally – shot put titans Tom Walsh and Jacko Gill will take the circle optimistic of advancing to the final.

Tom has proved a world-class performer for the past seven years or so, winning three world titles (one outdoor and two indoor), the 2018 Commonwealth title and 2016 Olympic bronze in Rio. The 29-year-old Christchurch-based thrower was defeated several times by his Kiwi rival Jacko Gill during the domestic season but has re-emerged in better form – and will be encouraged by his 22.22m throw at the Gyulai Istvan Memorial meet in Hungary earlier this month, a best effort since his New Zealand record of 22.90m to win bronze at the 2019 World Championships in Doha.

Jacko has also been a very consistent championship performer in recent times and lines up for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in the form of his life. In February in Christchurch, he set a PB of 21.52m and matched this mark one week later in Hamilton. He further extended his PB earlier this month in Auckland with a throw of 21.55m. The Auckland-based thrower finished ninth at the Rio Olympic Games and will be hoping for better in Tokyo.

23:35 – Women’s Hammer Throw Final

Possible involvement for Lauren Bruce and Julia Ratcliffe.

Thursday August 5 – Day Seven

Morning Session

14:05 – Men’s shot put final

Possible involvement for Tom Walsh and Jacko Gill.

Evening session

23:00 – Men’s 1500m semi-finals

Possible involvement for Nick Willis and Sam Tanner.

Friday August 6 – Day Eight

08:30 – Men’s 50km Race Walk

Quentin Rew competes at his third successive Olympics in the 50km race walk. Based in Melbourne but originally from Wellington, the 37-year-old veteran finished 27th at the 2012 London Olympics before improving to 12th in Rio.

He set a PB and national record of 3:46:29 to place 11th at the 2017 World Championships in London. Quentin showed he could handle the heat when finishing 11th at the 2019 Doha World Championships – a fact which will serve the Kiwi well in Tokyo.

Saturday August 7 – Day Nine

Evening Session

22:45 – Women’s 10,000m final

Camille Buscomb returns to the track in the 10,000m final. The 30-year-old athlete set a lifetime best of 31:13.21 to place 12th at the 2019 World Championships in Doha and in her most recent appearance over the 25-lap distance, the Kiwi posted a time of 32:12.39 in Hengelo in June. The best previous performance by a Kiwi in this event was delivered by Kim Smith, who finished ninth at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

23:40 – Men’s 1500m final

Possible involvement Nick Willis/Sam Tanner.

Sunday August 8 – Day Ten

10:00 – Men’s Marathon

Zane Robertson and Malcolm Hicks form a two-pronged Kiwi assault in the final event of the athletics programme – which takes place in Sapporo.

Ethiopian-based Zane makes his second Olympic appearance having finished 12th over 10,000m at the Rio Olympic Games. In 2019 he set a New Zealand record in the marathon, recording 2:08:17 for third in Gold Coast. In his most recent outing, Zane placed tenth (2:15:17) in the Los Angeles Marathon held in March 2020.

Malcolm ran a near four-minute PB to record a breakthrough 2:10:04 time at the 2020 Seville Marathon. Based in London but raised in Auckland, the 33-year-old engineer performed admirably in the Black Singlet placing 27th in oppressive heat and humidity at the 2019 World Championship marathon in Doha.


As the home of Sport, Sky is the official broadcast partner of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. With 12 channels of Olympic Games coverage, you’ll be able to catch every minute of the athletics action.

Not already sorted with Sky Sport or Sky Sport Now? Find out how to join Sky here or sign up for the Sky Sport Now Olympic Games Pass here