News & Updates

2 February 2024 • Track and Field

Tanner and Peeters star in the capital

Tori Peeters opened her season by defeating a strong international field at the Team Harcourts Ledger Capital Classic. Credit: (Michael Dawson).

On a wild night in Wellington, middle-distance maestro Sam Tanner added the national 3000m title in a PB, meet record and championship record time of 7:50.26 to the New Zealand mile crown he snared just six days earlier to provide the highlight of the 20th anniversary Team Ledger Harcourts Capital Classic at Newtown Park.

The sub-3:50 miler was pure class as he turned on the after burners with two laps to go to kick clear of his training partner Hayden Wilde, the Olympic triathlon bronze medallist, who picked up silver in 7:57.47. William Little grabbed his second national bronze medal in six days – following his podium finish in the NZ mile championship in Whanganui – courtesy of a PB of 7:59.64. Nine in the field of 14 finishers registered lifetime bests with Whippets athletes providing five of the top eight.

Liam Lamb selflessly took the field through the first four laps or so as the three medallists tracked the pacemaker, quickly opening up a gap on the remainder of the field. Once Lamb swung from the front with around 1400m remaining Tanner took the lead before making his decisive move with around the 800m to go.

Tanner was pleased the wind had dropped by the time the starting gun was fired and he added: “It was good to have (Liam) Lamby help us out for the opening laps, my form is coming along nicely.

“It is interesting racing Hayden anything over a mile. He clipped me with two laps to go, so I though he must be feeling good, I’d better put the pressure on a little bit,” added Tanner, who bettered the meet record held by Australian Rorey Hunter of 7:53.41, and also eclipsed the championship record of 7:52.78 set by Robbie Johnston in 1995. 

Tillie Hollyer claimed her maiden national senior title with a comprehensive victory in the women’s 3000m championships, clocking a time of 9:31.45. The 21-year-old Whippets athlete has been in great shape, winning the 800m and 1500m Pacific Games double in November before adding a bronze medal in the New Zealand mile championships last weekend. Happy for Eva Pringle to take on the pace she made her decisive move just before the bell launching a vicious kick to run away to the gold medal. Pringle – a clubmate of Hollyer – was rewarded with silver in a PB of 9:37.93 with 18-year-old Poppy Martin (Lake City), the New Zealand U20 road mile champion, in bronze (9:56.48).

A super stoked Hollyer said: “It is a cool to be a national champion, obviously the field was heavily reduced there was no Laura Nagel, Rebekah Aitkenhead all the famous names were not here, so I knew I had a shot. I thought Anneke (Arlidge) was going to be running but she did not turn up so I thought I think I can do this. I did a PB of 9:25 in Timaru at Lovelock Classic and I was hoping for a fast race today, but the conditions were less than ideal. As it was the national champs, I thought I would play it tactically. Eva (Pringle) took a couple of laps, I feel like I am very capable of a fast 3k if in the right race, so I hope to get the chance to do another one.”

The wet and windy conditions precluded any long throws in the women’s javelin but New Zealand record-holder Tori Peeters at least has the satisfaction of opening her campaign by defeating a strong international field with a best of 56.53m. Peeters, who boasts a PB of 63.26m, led from her opening throw of 52.66m but was forced to dig deep after Sae Takemoto of Japan, a 2022 World Championship finalist, briefly dislodged the Kiwi from top spot in round four with a best of 52.78m. Staying composed the 2023 Diamond League Final podium finisher powered the spear out to 54.50m with her fourth attempt before extending her advantage courtesy of a 54.79m throw in the fifth stanza. Improving throughout Peeters saved her best of the night until the final round to defeat Takemoto, the winner at Cooks Classic. Compatriot Yuka Sato (49.22m) rounded out the podium.

A satisfied Peeters said: “There was a bit of variety out there tonight but that is athletics for you. Rain, hail or shine we are out here it is what you have to put up with and everyone is dealing with the same conditions. It was challenging today but there are lots of positives to take out of tonight.

On the quality of the opposition she faced in Wellington she added: “It is awesome to have some international competition here in New Zealand. They are going to be here a little longer so we will accommodate them and look after them a little longer while they are here.”

Tommy Te Puni (North Harbour Bays) made a mockery of the tough weather conditions to trim 0.02 from the nine-year-old meet record of Daniel Dyet to win the men’s 400m in 47.26. The 21-year-old Aucklander who has recently recovered from injury was rewarded for his aggressive approach and despite tying up in the latter stages he successfully held off the late-charging national champion Lex Revell-Lewis (47.55) of Waitakere. Te Puni’s time was within 0.03 of his lifetime best and competing in far from perfect conditions and in his opening 400m of the year suggests his PB is set for serious revision very soon. Kahurangi Cotterill (New Zealand Secondary Schools) in 49.31 finished third.

Josh Hawkins (ACAC) defied the difficult conditions to open his season in style by trimming 0.07 from his meet record to clock 14.01 (-0.7) en route to victory in the men’s 110m hurdles. Hawkins, who celebrates his 30th birthday next Friday, enjoyed an outstanding 2023 lowering his national record of 13.67 in Sydney and he will be bolstered by his performance tonight.

Hawkins said: “I’m happy with the time and excited for where the season is about to go.”

New Zealand multi-eventer Briana Stephenson claimed an excellent scalp to beat Australian Imogen Breslin by 0.13 in a time of 14.16 (-2.0) to clinch top spot in the women’s 100m hurdles.

Athletes in the mixed 3000m race walk defied the wet and blustery conditions to serve up some outstanding performance led by Jonah Cropp, who triumphed in a New Zealand U20 and U19 record time of 12:16.43 pending ratification. The 18-year-old of Sumner Running Club scalped more than 18 seconds from his previous best and followed up his excellent sub-45-minute 10km track race walk time he registered in Canberra last week. He bettered the 33-year-old national U19 mark of 12:25.90 set by Andrew Causer and Graeme Jones’ national U20 time of 12:16.8 posted in 1993. Lucas Martin finished runner-up in 13:10.88.  Cropp has a busy 24 hours as he plans to compete in the 5000m race walk in Christchurch on Saturday (3 Feb).

A delighted Cropp, who has benefited by recently training for a three-week period with the top Australian race walkers, said: “It was a fantastic race, not great conditions but I just had to push through and hope for the best. It means a lot to me to get the records. Two years ago, I would not have thought I would be walking this fast!”

Laura Langley finished top woman and also caught the eye with an impressive display. The 26-year-old North Canterbury athlete set a meet record and hacked more than 16 seconds from her seven-year-old lifetime best to record 13:20.17. Both Cropp and Langley have been selected for New Zealand to compete at the World Athletics Race Walking Team Championships in Turkey in April.

Elsewhere in the sprints, national U20 champion Angus Lyver (Christchurch Old Boys) battled through a testing -3.2m/s headwind to win the men’s 200m n 21.77 and home favourite Cody Wilson (Mana) maintained his excellent form this season to claim 100m victory in a season’s best 10.57 (+0.8). Livvy Wilson (North Harbour) was a decisive winner of the women’s 100m in 11.92 (-1.4m/s).

Former national 800m champion Holly Manning (Hastings) led from the front to win the women’s two-lap race in 2:08.59. Luke Shaw led home an Australian one-two in the men’s 800m registering 1:50.59.

World Para shot silver medallist Holly Robinson enjoyed another impressive performance in the women’s shot F46. After posting a national record of 11.74m in the event in Canberra last weekend, the 29-year-old Dunedin-based athlete came within 6cm of that mark to take top spot in the women’s Para shot. Jaxon Woolley completed the Para sprint double with the T38 sprinter clocking 12.56 (-1.7) before returning to later win the 200m in 25.53 (-0.7). Meanwhile, it was a memorable night for Sasha Al-Dazhani (Egmont) who lowered her national open women’s T38 100m mark in 15.91 (-0.2) and 200m record in 33.56 (0.7). Jack Adams (Gisborne) set a huge new open national record in the men’s shot F46, registering 10.72m.

In the field, Nick Palmer unleashed the second best performance of his career to win the men’s shot with a first round effort of 19.51m. The Hastings AC athlete could not quite match his PB of 19.76m set at Potts Classic last month but the distance was hugely encouraging. Liam Ngchok-Wulf in second set a 2cm PB of 17.26m.

Hampered by the difficult jumping conditions, Australia’s 2022 World Championships finalist Joel Baden, a 2.33m performer at his best, took victory with 2.20m in the men’s high jump. His countryman Roman Anastasios grabbed second with a 2.16m clearance.

Australian champion Desleigh Owusu was the class of the field in the women’s triple jump, soaring out to a best of 12.87m (+1.4m/s) to take top spot from her New Zealand equivalent Anna Thomson (11.92m)

The men’s discus also had an international winner with former Japanese champion Masateru Yugami unleashing an impressive season’s best of 59.14m to claim a comfortable win.

Competing in challenging conditions Imogen Skelton (Auckland City Athletics) followed up her victory at the Pak’n’Save Cooks Classic last weekend to triumph in the women’s high jump with a best of 1.76m. Unfortunately, both pole vault competitions were cancelled because of the inclement weather.

For results go here