News & Updates

23 March 2021 • Track and Field

Ten athletes to watch at the NZ Track and Field Champs

Lauren Bruce is set to resume her battle with Julia Ratcliffe (Photo: Alisha Lovrich) 

The rescheduled 2021 Jennian Homes Track and Field Championships in Hastings (March 26-27) will provide a compelling climax to an unforgettable campaign. Ahead of the eagerly-awaited event, we identify ten athletes to watch across the two days of action.

Zoe Hobbs

Can Hastings and competing at the national championships provide the perfect set of ingredients for Zoe Hobbs to lower Michelle Seymour’s 28-year-old New Zealand 100m record of 11.32?

The warm and benign conditions often experienced in the Hawke’s Bay summer coupled with a track at Mitre 10 Park – commonly regarded as the fastest in New Zealand – regularly provides a sprinter’s paradise.

And historically the venue has proved to Zoe’s liking. She has claimed five successive 100m victories at the Potts Classic and two of her three fastest (legal) 100m times in her career were set in Hastings.

Her 11.35 resident record set in Auckland in January came tantalisingly close to the national record – but can she find a little more to add the New Zealand record mark to her resume as she chases a fifth successive national 100m title?

Anna Grimaldi

Paralympic long jump champion Anna Grimaldi is one of the star athletes on show in Hastings with her red-hot form offering genuine hope of something special in Hastings.

The 24-year-old Dunedin-based athlete has twice bettered her national T47 record this year with her best of 5.91m – within just 10cm of the T47 world record – last month in Dunedin illustrating her outstanding form.

Entered in both the Para long jump (on Saturday 9.10am) and able-bodied women’s long jump final (Friday at 3.30pm) – expect her to be very competitive in the latter event where she sits second in the New Zealand rankings.

Camille Buscomb

One of the most compelling stories of the weekend could be Camille Buscomb’s ambitious attempt to target the 800m, 1500m and 5000m across the revised two-day programme.

New Zealand’s premier female endurance athlete and 2019 World Championships 5000m and 10,000m 12th place finisher has focused on the shorter distances this summer, taking out the revived national mile championship in Whanganui and lowering her 1500m PB to 4:13.47.

She starts her quest with the 800m (Friday at 2.25pm) – her likely most daunting challenge as the fourth ranked athlete in New Zealand this year.

The 30-year-old Hamilton-based athlete next moves on to the women’s 5000m (Friday at 6pm) – where she will start a clear favourite to add her fourth national senior title over the 12-and-a-half lap distance.

Camille will then complete her gruelling programme at 3.55pm on Saturday in pursuit of a maiden national 1500m title.

Portia Bing

One of the most impressive performances of a memorable summer was Portia Bing’s New Zealand resident record of 55.99 set in Hamilton and the 27-year-old Aucklander will be once again looking to impress in Hastings.

The New Zealand representative at the 2019 World Championships, came within just 0.13 of her national record at the Porritt Classic and should conditions be in her favour this mark could be vulnerable when she takes to the track at 3.40pm on Friday.

Portia will be seeking a fourth successive national title in the event and may have half-an-eye on the automatic Olympic qualification standard of 55.40.

Tom Walsh

In the absence of long-time rival Jacko Gill, Tom Walsh will be expected to secure a 12th successive national shot title and end a mixed domestic season on a high note.

The three-time world champion was surprisingly defeated by Gill on four successive occasions during the 2020-21 season before snapping that run with a season’s best 21.60m in their last encounter at the Sir Graeme Douglas International in Auckland.

The 29-year-old Cantabrian has spoken about being in 22.50m shape and it would be great to see the big fella breach the 22m line for the first time in New Zealand for three years. The men’s shot is underway at 6.15pm on Friday.

Dame Valerie Adams

After producing a vintage display with her longest throw for five years at the Sir Graeme Douglas International in Auckland last month all eyes will be on the ten-time global champion in Hastings.

The 36-year-old unleashed a mighty effort of 19.65m at the Trusts Arena to add almost a metre on to her season’s best and match the best throw in the world this year – achieved by European Indoor champion Auriol Dongmo of Portugal.

Clearly benefiting from a coaching switch to Christchurch-based Dale Stevenson, it will be fascinating to see how Dame Valerie performs (the competition starts at 4.30pm Friday) as she pursues her 17th national shot title to match the record of former Commonwealth champion Val Young.

Lauren Bruce and Julia Ratcliffe

The head-to-head battles between women’s hammer giants Julia Ratcliffe and Lauren Bruce has provided one of the highlights of the domestic summer season and their showdown in Hastings will be perhaps their most eagerly awaited battle to date.

Julia, a five-time national champion and 2018 Commonwealth gold medallist, was replaced as Oceania record-holder last September in Hastings after Lauren elevated herself to a new level following a spectacular improvement by more than five metres with a 73.47m effort.

In their pre-Christmas clash in Auckland, Julia held sway but since then, the 23-year-old Lauren has claimed back-to-back wins – in Hastings and Hamilton – against her New Zealand rival. The clash on Friday at 5.10pm has all the ingredients of a classic as Lauren chases what would be a maiden senior national hammer title.

Hamish Kerr 

Few moments this summer season quite match the spectacular New Zealand record-breaking performance of Hamish Kerr in Wellington and the high jump star will rightly garner much attention.

On that occasion the Christchurch-based jumper soared over 2.31m and the next goal is to secure the automatic Olympic qualification mark of 2.33m – a height he has come close to surpassing several times this year.

Look out for the high-flying 24-year-old to light up the high jump apron as he pursues a sixth senior national high jump title, starting at 5.25pm on Friday.

Connor Bell

The teenage discus titan will have happy memories of Hastings after posting a New Zealand resident record mark 64.29m at Mitre 10 Park in January.

The 19-year-old Auckland-based thrower has been consistently over 63m this season and should conditions be in his favour, the 19-year-old national record of Ian Winchester could be vulnerable.

Connor, the 2018 Youth Olympic champion, may also have half-an-eye on the automatic Olympic qualification mark of 66m as he looks to extend his unbeaten 2021 campaign from 11.30am on Saturday.

Lisa Adams

The world champion and world record-holder has proved virtually invincible over the past couple of seasons and expect the Para shot put star to provide more fireworks in Hastings.

It was at this same venue back in September last year where Lisa set her existing world F37 record of 15.50m and her form this year suggests she could be in the mood to better that mark.

The 30-year-old Rotorua-based athlete fired the 3kg shot put within 1cm of that world record mark in Whanganui in January and in a more recent appearance registered 15.38m at the Waikato Bay of Plenty Champs.

Lisa is in shot action at 10.30am on Saturday.

For more information on the Jennian Homes New Zealand Track and Field Championships, including the results, timetable and field lists, please click here

Friday Live Stream Links:

Session One Live Stream 

Session Two Live Steam

Saturday Live Stream Links:

Session Three Live Stream

Session Four Live Stream

Please note: The Sky Sport Next live streaming coverage will start at approximately 10am on each day and not all events will be featured. There will be a Facebook Live of the race walking on both mornings on the Athletics New Zealand page. 

Jennian Homes New Zealand Track and Field Championships
Friday 26 March – Saturday 27 March
Mitre 10 Park Hawke’s Bay, Hastings
The last major athletics meet in New Zealand before the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics

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