News & Updates

22 February 2023 • Track and Field

Strong Kiwi contingent led by Tanner set for world-class Melbourne meet

Just five days after his appearance at the World Cross Country Championships in Bathurst, Sam Tanner competes over the mile in Melbourne. Credit: (Alisha Lovrich).

Fresh from his appearance for New Zealand at the World Cross Country Championships in Bathurst on Saturday, middle-distance star Sam Tanner will be one of 15 Kiwi athletes in action at the star-studded Maurie Plant meet at Lakeside Stadium, Melbourne on Thursday (23 Feb) night.

The World Athletics Continental Tour gold status event – one step down from the Diamond League – will serve as a great opportunity for New Zealand athletes to secure big world ranking points in the race to earn selection for the World Athletics Championships in Budapest in August.

Tanner has enjoyed a memorable past few weeks of action, highlighted by a scintillating 3:51.70 over the mile at Millrose Games, a performance which elevated the 22-year-old Athletics Tauranga athlete to number two on the all-time New Zealand indoor mile lists.

In Melbourne he faces a world-class field for the John Landy Mile led by Australia’s Ollie Hoare, the Commonwealth 1500m champion who finished one place ahead of Tanner at Millrose Games, and 2016 Olympic 1500m champion Matt Centrowitz of the USA.

Craig Kirkwood coach to Tanner said: “Sam’s legs were a bit sore on Sunday after World Cross but he has pulled up well and been out for a jog this morning.

“To race in Melbourne post World Cross is a good opportunity to have a battle with Ollie Hoare again. There is no massive expectation on Sam in terms of trying to get a time or to win it, he will just go there and try to execute a good race.”

Connor Bell, who set a New Zealand senior men’s discus record of 66.14m in Hastings in January, has made a fantastic start to the year but will be putting his unbeaten record in 2023 on the line when he faces Australia’s Commonwealth champion Matt Denny, who boasts a lifetime best of 67.26m. Note, this event takes place as part of the Maurie Plant meet but in Geelong on today (Wednesday) at 6.30pm (NZ time).

New Zealand sprinting is riding on the crest of a wave at the moment and Georgia Hulls, who ran the second quickest 200m time by a New Zealand woman in history with her 22.84 – just 0.03 behind Rosie Elliott’s national record run – in Christchurch on Sunday returns to the track facing a top-class line of Australian athletes led by Tokyo Olympic semi-finalist Riley Day (22.56).

Hulls, the national 200m champion, who represented her country at the 2022 World Athletics Championships said: “I was pleased with my PB of 22.84 in Christchurch on Sunday but, should conditions allow, I’m hoping to run even quicker at Melbourne with the World Championship entry standard time of 22.60, a big target.

“The Australian girls that I’m up against will provide a huge test and I’m looking forward to the challenge of competing at such a high profile meet.”

The 2022 New Zealand 100m bronze medallist Livvy Wilson competes in the women’s 100m.

Also flying the New Zealand flag in Melbourne is Tiaan Whelpton, who twice equalled the New Zealand men’s 100m resident record and his PB with a pair of 10.18 times at Potts Classic in January. He will face a formidable examination on Thursday, up against reigning New Zealand 100m champion and national record-holder Eddie Osei-Nketia as well as a powerful clutch of Aussie sprinters led by Olympic semi-finalist Rohan Browning (10.01).

New Zealand’s premier 800m runners – James Preston and Brad Mathas – will be looking for a quick time and a good performance in the men’s two-lap race. Preston, the national champion who last year became the third quickest Kiwi ever over the distance with an eye-catching 1:45.30, has started the 2023 campaign unbeaten over 800m while Australian-based Mathas, the Oceania champion, will also be looking to make an impact. Among their chief rivals will be Aussie Charlie Hunter, who boasts a best of 1:44.35.

New Zealand one mile champion Rebekah Greene is enjoying a stellar season and she will relish the opportunity of competing against a world-class field in the women’s 1500m. Among the most prominent athletes include sub-four-minute 1500m runners, Jessica Hull of Australia and US athlete Heather MacLean. Also entered is Emma Coburn of the US, the 2017 world steeplechase champion. New Zealand 3000m champion Julian Oakley takes to the track in a high-class seven-and-a-half lap race – where he will face Oceania 3000m record-holder and recently minted World Cross Country mixed relay bronze medallist from Australia Stewart McSweyn.

In the field, New Zealand javelin record-holder and Commonwealth Games fifth-placer Tori Peeters faces 2018 Commonwealth Games champion Kathryn Mitchell. Oceania record-holder Lauren Bruce will look to impress against a quality international line-up in the women’s hammer, which includes 2019 World University Games champion Iryna Klymets of Ukraine (73.56m) and 2021 World U20 silver medallist Rose Loga (71.09m) of France. New Zealand women’s hammer bronze medallist Lexi Maples also competes.

In the women’s high jump, Commonwealth Games sixth placer Keeley O’Hagan and 2022 New Zealand silver medallist Imogen Skelton face a quality field led by Australia’s Nicola Olyslagers, the Tokyo Olympic silver medallist.

Entry Lists here

 Schedule here

***We will up date on how to watch the meet in due course