News & Updates

25 January 2024 • Track and Field

Tanner guns for successful defence of NZ mile crown

Sam Tanner will look to pursue back to back NZ mile titles in Whanganui on Saturday. Credit: (Peter Jones).

The Pak’nSave Cooks Classic looks set to serve up another mouthwatering competition on Saturday (27 Jan). We preview the best of the action below.

Event Background

Following the success of the 25th anniversary Potts Track & Field Classic in Hastings last Saturday the next stop on the Classic tour moves on to Whanganui for the Pak’nSave Cooks Classic.

Hosted at the iconic Cooks Gardens – the setting for Sir Peter Snell’s world mile record of 3:54.4 in 1962 – the venue has attracted some of the finest middle-distance runners in history and last year was presented a World Athletics Heritage Plaque to reflect its significant status within the sport.

Given its history, it is little surprise that the mile will once again be a central component of the meet – which has World Athletics Continental Tour Challenger status – as it hosts the New Zealand senior men’s and women’s championships.

Who is competing?

The 2024 Pak’nSave Cooks Classic will serve up a strong overseas contingent to take on New Zealand’s finest for what is sure to be a memorable meeting.

The Peter Snell New Zealand Mile Championship will form a thrilling climax to the meet with Tokyo Olympian and 3:31 1500m runner Sam Tanner bidding to retain the title he won 12 months ago.

Tanner, who also won the 2021 New Zealand mile title, will look to open up his campaign with a strong outing and may have half an eye on the stadium record of two-time Olympian Nick Willis which stands at 3:52.75.

His main opposition is likely to come from training partner Julian Oakley, the 2022 New Zealand mile champion, and watch out too for Australian 1500m champion Callum Davies, who finished second behind Tanner 12 months ago.

Rebekah Aitkenhead (nee Greene) will seek to defend her national women’s mile title bolstered by the thought of having set a New Zealand resident record en route to the title last January. However, seeking to wrestle the title from her grasp is in-form national 1500m, 3000m and 5000m champion Laura Nagel, who shattered her personal best to win the Sylvia Potts 800m Memorial in Hastings last weekend.

Pacific Games 800m and 1500m champion Tillie Hollyer and 16-year-old Boh Ritchie – fresh off her New Zealand U17 800m record in Hastings last week – are also entered.

Commonwealth high jump champion Hamish Kerr makes his third domestic appearance of 2024 following victories at both the Lovelock Classic and Jumps to Music. The 27-year-old will be looking for a positive showing before he heads overseas to compete indoors and he will have half-an-eye on his stadium record mark of 2.28m. In the women’s high jump Keeley O’Hagan, the 2022 Commonwealth Games sixth placer, is also entered alongside Imogen Skelton.

Four-time World Championships representative Portia Bing claimed a convincing 400m victory at Hastings last week and the national 400m hurdles record-holder is entered in both the 200m and 400m in Whanganui.

In the men’s 100m look out for Australian Jake Doran, a 2022 Commonwealth Games 100m semi-finalist with a best of 10.15. Cody Wilson and Rylan Noome, the 1-2 from the Potts Classic, are also entered. The in-form duo will also compete in the men’s 200m with James Ford, Thomas Cowan and multi eventer Max Attwell among those taking to the blocks in the 400m.

In the field, Nick Palmer will be look to build on an outstanding PB performance of 19.76m in the men’s shot in Hastings last Saturday. The 23-year-old is clearly in great nick and will be hoping to join Tom Walsh and Jacko Gill in the exclusive New Zealand 20m club.

Siblings Anna and Scott Thomson lead the fields in the women’s and men’s triple jumps respectively while the long jump victors at the Potts Classic, Lewis Arthur, who set a PB of 7.48m on the road to victory in Hastings, and Hannah Sandilands both headline the men’s and women’s long jump competitions.

Both javelin competitions boast powerful international fields with 2023 World Championships representative and 82.04m thrower Felise Vahai Sosaia of France leading the entrants in the men’s competition. New Zealand champion Douw Botes leads the domestic challengers.

In the women’s competition Japanese duo – Sae Takamoto, (62.39m) and Yuka Sato (62.88m) head the field supported by Jona Aigouy (58.12m) of France.

How to follow the action?

The 2024 Pak’n’Save Cooks Classic will be livestreamed from 6.30pm on Saturday here

For live results go the Roster App. Download details here