News & Updates

5 March 2023 • Track and Field

Rip-roaring run by Rosie Elliott earns the Canterbury sprinter back-to-back successes

Rosie Elliott blasts to a brilliant victory in the women’s 400m final. (Credit: Alisha Lovrich).

A rip-roaring run by Rosie Elliott earned the Canterbury sprinter back-to-back successes in the women’s 400m as she repelled the strong challenge of Porta Bing to strike gold on the final day of the Jennian Homes New Zealand Track & Field Championships in Wellington.

The 25-year-old sprinter stopped the clock in 52.39 to record the second fastest time of her career and finish 0.70 clear of Bing, the national 400m hurdles champion, in a compelling encounter. Stella Pearless (Auckland), who is better known as an 800m exponent, bettered her PB from the heats, running 55.32 for bronze.

Elliott adopted an ultra-aggressive strategy and while the final 40m or so were a struggle she was pleased with her efforts and delighted to bank a second successive national 400m title.

“We were trying something new in this race, to go out hard and in a PB time for the 300m. I think I did that, but I really felt in the last 40metre or 50 metres. I could hear Portia coming, she is scary woman. Portia is the record holder in the 400m hurdles, so should I have finished second to her it would not be something to be disgruntled about.

“I wasn’t sure I would make it to the line. There was a moment I blinked, and I didn’t think I’d be able to open my eyes open again. I was still shooting for that sub-52 second time and New Zealand record time, but once I’ve gathered my thoughts, I will have learned a lot from today.”

New Zealand middle-distance star Sam Tanner gave a clear demonstration of his special gifts to canter to his third national senior men’s 1500m title. Happy to lope along at the back for what as a casual first 800m within the space of 100m the 3:51.70 miler then advanced from the back to the front and just metres before the bell launched a vicious kick for home and rapidly opened a huge lead.

Tanner would not be caught and even could turn off the after burners to cruise home to the gold medal in 3:53.03 to finish 1.02 clear of Eric Speakman (Hawkes Bay Gisborne), who picked up a ninth national track silver medal of his career. Russell Green (Canterbury) finished strongly to clinch bronze in 3:54.13.

“I love racing nationals with the boys, the camaraderie in the call room is awesome so that’s what makes it special for me. The plan was to be at the back at 800m, move up the field and then hit it hard with 400m to go.

“I was planning on running sub-50 on the last lap but with 200m to go, I thought I pulled enough lead so backed off. It is awesome to win that title and follow all the great names before me.”

The final individual track event of the championship saw Laura Nagel complete a memorable 1500m and 5000m double for a second successive season after adding the latter title in an unexpected PB of 4:13.25.

Rebekah Greene (Otago) was rewarded for running with aggressive intent from the gun to take silver in 4:16.23 with Anneke Grogan completing a herculean effort across the four-day programme by wining 1500m bronze in 4:21.81 to add to her steeplechase gold and 5000m silver.

From the gun it was Greene who darted to the front and by the 800m mark she had opened up an 8m lead on the pursuing Nagel with a large gap back to the chasing pack. However, Nagel did not panic and gradually narrowed the gap on the leader and with 400m remaining she was within striking distance of Greene.

With 250m to go, Nagel edged ahead and would not be caught, achieving the added bonus of slicing 1.06 from her previous quickest time and onto a memorable win.

Nagel said: “I didn’t think Rebekah would take it out from the beginning. So, I said to myself, ‘okay, Laura, you need to stay in this and not disconnect too much and gradually make my way up.’ I’ve done it training, I just need to do it in the race.

On completing the ‘double double’ Nagel said: “I’m very satisfied and a little relieved it is done. Having three races in four day I feel like a bit nervous everyday bar the Friday. I’m very happy because last year I never thought I’d win one 1500m title, let alone two.”

Josh Hawkins lowered his New Zealand resident record, clocking a blistering 13.94 (-0.3) to claim an eighth national title in the men’s 110m hurdles.

The 29-year-old Aucklander has been in outstanding shape this season and in a pre-race interview with Athletics NZ spoke about his intentions to better his previous mark of 13.98 set six years ago in Hamilton.

Hawkins said of setting the resident record: “I said to myself, you can’t wait for things to happen, you just have to go for it! Good times only come when you are trying. I’m so happy to run my first sub-14 time for four years.

On letting out a roar as he crossed the line he added: “That was more just be trying to exert every bit of energy, it definitely feels there is more there.”

He plans more hurdles races at the Sydney Track Classic and the Australian Championships, where he will look to attack his national record of 13.69.

Anna Percy justified her decision to return back to the hurdles after a period focused on sprinting by blitzing to the national women’s 100m hurdles title in 13.57 (1.0) slashing 0.20 from her previous PB. The two-time former New Zealand 400m hurdles champion was all class taking a comprehensive victory and climbing to number five on the all-time New Zealand rankings for the distance.

Alessandra Macdonald trimmed 0.01 from her lifetime best to run 14.26 and claim a second successive 100m hurdles silver. The dethroned champion Celine Pearn (14.31) took bronze. 

Georgia Hulls, the second fastest New Zealand half-lap runner in history, secured a third successive national women’s 200m title, posting 23.89 into a gusting -2.2m/s wind. The 23-year-old Hawkes Bay Gisborne athlete was pushed all the way by Brooke Somerfield (24.12) who was rewarded with silver while Tamsin Harvey of Wellington executing an exciting breakthrough performance to take bronze in a PB of 24.64.

Dhruv Rodrigues Chico (Auckland) announced himself to the New Zealand athletics community with a dramatic late dash for the line to secure the national senior men’s 200m title in a blistering 21.10 (-0.4m/s). Hamish Gill, who led for the first three quarters of the race, grabbed silver in 21.27 with former national U20 champion Tommy Te Puni grabbed bronze in 21.45.

Chico was born in India but left at the age of two to spend the next eight years of his life in Auckland before moving to Melbourne, where he still resides. Wanting to align himself to New Zealand this season he set a PB of 20.96 in Canberra and impressed in the 100m here at Newtown Park when winning silver behind Tiaan Whelpton.

In the men’s 400m Lex Revell-Lewis (Auckland) hunted down defending champion John Gerber (Otago) to add the men’s senior 400m crown to the U20 title he won 12 months ago in 47.68 – the second quickest time of his life.

Behind, the minor medallists Fergus McLeay (Otago) in 48.11 and Troy Middleton (Auckland) in 48.22 both set PB’s to win silver and bronze, respectively. Gerber missed out on a medal winding up fourth in 48.38.

In the field, Alice Taylor produced the performance of her life to set a 3cm PB and secure the national senior high jump title in an absorbing competition to win with a leap of 1.87m. The 20-year-old Waikato Bay of Plenty athlete cleared her winning height with her second attempt to finish clear of Maddie Wilson (1.84m) who also added 2cm to her personal best to win silver.

Lauren Bruce set a season’s best mark of 67.83m to defend her national women’s hammer ahead of her Canterbury team-mate Lexi Maples, who added more than a metre on to her PB with a 59.81m for silver.

New Zealand record-holder Connor Bell banked a hat-trick of national senior discus titles with third round best of 61.33m. The mark was some way down on the 21-year-old’s monster 66.23m national record set in Geelong last month but it was nonetheless another rock-solid effort for the Aucklander who finished comfortably clear of Kieran Fowler (50.79m), who upgraded on the bronze medal he won at 2022 nationals.

Ebuka Okpala claimed a fifth national senior triple jump title and first for four years with a best of 15.39m – some 90cm clear of the defending champion Scott Thomson (Wellington) in silver. Anna Thomson (Wellington) comfortably claimed a sixth national senior triple jump with a best of 12.62 (1.1) ahead of Alessandra Macdonald (11.63m), who added a second silver medal for the day following her podium spot in the women’s 100m hurdles.

James Steyn regained the national senior men’s pole vault title with a quality clearance at 5.26m from his fellow Aucklander Nick Southgate, who posted a season’s best of 5.11m for silver.

The defending champion in the men’s javelin Jared Neighbours had to settle for silver with 60.64m as 18-year-old Douw Botes, a national U18 champion from 12 months ago, struck gold with a best of 63.62m.

Lucas Martin (Manawatu-Whanganui) added the New Zealand senior 10,000m race walk title to the U20 3000m race walk crown he snared on Thursday. Martin, 18, butchered his previous PB by more than two minutes, clocking 46:10.02 for gold.

Laura Langley (Hawkes Bay Gisborne) completed the senior women’s 3000m and 10,000m race walking double with an impressive victory in 50:09.08 ahead of Courtney Ruske in silver (52:18.87).

The headline performance in the age groups came in the under-20 women’s 200m final as Chayille Collete exacted revenge on her twin sister, Addira, to strike gold in a national U18 and U19 record time of 23.73. Chayille, the defending champion, rounded the bend with a slight advantage and held off her sibling my 0.11 as both obliterated their previous best times with the former trimming 0.02 from the seven-year-old New Zealand U18 and U19 mark of Lucy Sheat.

Angus Lyver ran a stunning personal best of 21.36 (-0.6) to strike gold in the men’s U20 200m and add a second gold medal to his collection here at Newtown Park after also winning the men’s U20 long jump earlier in the championships.

Natalia Rankin-Chitar (Auckland) climaxed a fantastic championship to complete the U20 shot and discus double with a 44.64m throw in the latter event. After also winning senior shot silver and senior discus bronze the 18-year-old thrower bagged an eye-catching four medals at Newtown Park. 

James Ford (Auckland) also concluded his effort at Newtown Park in style as he completed the men’s U20 400m and 800m double with victory in the former event in a huge new PB of 47.94. World U20 semi-finalist Mia Powell (Auckland) successfully defended her national U20 women’s final in a dominant 54.74.

It was raining national records in the Para event with the one-two in the men’s 200m – Will Stedman T36 and Mitch Joynt T64 both smashing national senior records (Joynt also secured the Oceania record) with a pair of hugely impressive performance. Stedman, the four-time Paralympic medallist, crossed the line second, clocking 25.20 (0.3) to trim 0.12 from the previous New Zealand record of Keegan Pitcher, and struck gold with a 95.60% of world record.

Joynt flashed across the line in 23.36 to carve 0.20 from his previous national record and claim silver (91.05%) in a B qualifier for the World Para Athletics Championships. The Auckland Bladerunner said: “I’m really happy with that, the plan this season has been to run the bend has hard as I can and hold on because previously the bend is where I’ve lost the time. Today I felt I ran a good 180 and tied up a bit in the last 20m but hat is all good we can build on the endurance and a step in the right direction.”

“Nationals records are amazing the main thing is that B qualifier and the opportunity to where the Black Singlet is what I’m chasing for right now.”

The women’s para discus provided an additional workload for the statisticians as Milly Marshall Kirkwood added more than a metre on to her national discus F57 U20 and senior record with an impressive throw of 16.53m.

Josh Taylor posted a national F20 javelin record of 16.77m, Jack Adams a new national shot put F46 of 9.95m and Rorie Poff added 2cm to his New Zealand F34 shot record of 7.28m.

Results here