News & Updates

16 March 2023 • General

Ten reasons to watch the Sir Graeme Douglas International presented by Harcourts Cooper & Co

Zoe Hobbs will make a mouthwatering appearance in the women’s 100m, which will provide the most eagerly-anticipated track encounter of the night (Credit: Alisha Lovrich).

The 2023 Sir Graeme Douglas International presented by Harcourts Cooper & Co at Auckland’s Trusts Arena on Thursday 16 March promises to be one of the one best editions yet of the World Athletics Continental Tour Bronze meet. Here are ten good reasons to head down to West Auckland to follow the action.

1 – Zoe tearing up the track

No New Zealand athlete, on the track at least, has made quite the same impact as Zoe Hobbs this year and her mouthwatering appearance in the women’s 100m will provide the most eagerly-anticipated track encounter of the night. After setting an Oceania record of 11.07 in the heats of the Jennian Homes New Zealand Track & Field Championships – in what was her first appearance of the season – it has been sub-11-seconds clocking all the way. In the final in Wellington, she ran an eye-popping wind-assisted 10.89 before eight days later blasting to a scintillating 10.97 to lower her Oceania women’s 100m record in Sydney. The question now is how much faster can she run in Auckland? Blink, and you’ll miss it…

2 – Jacko v Tom

Like two heavyweight prize fighters pitched in an eagerly anticipated re-match the clash between Jacko Gill and Tom Walsh in the men’s shot put will provide, arguably, the great head-to-head showdown of the evening. Earlier this month, Jacko snapped Tom’s 13-year reign as national champion with a huge toss throw of 21.80m – his second best ever mark – to finally claim his elusive first national title. Tom was originally not planning to compete at the Sir Graeme Douglas International Presented by Harcourts Cooper & Co but hurt by that defeat he is hoping for revenge on what should prove a titanic showdown in West Auckland.

3 – Eliza v Imogen V Olivia

If there is anything better than a head to head showdown, then it is a head-to-head-to-head battle and the women’s pole vault clash between Kiwi vaulting stars Eliza McCartney, Imogen Ayris and Olivia McTaggart has it all. At the Jennian Homes New Zealand Track & Field Championships earlier this month, Eliza claimed a heart-warming victory in Wellington to take her first national title in six years on countback with a 4.61m vault from Olivia. Last Saturday, Olivia produced the perfect counterpunch to set a 6cm PB and secure the World Championship entry standard of 4.71m and defeat Eliza and Imogen, the latter setting a PB of 4.51m. The clash at Trusts Arena could be something very special.

4 – The Adams family set to make a splash

Para shot putter Lisa Adams has enjoyed a highly promising campaign so far, and she will be looking for more in West Auckland on 16 March. The 32-year-old Rotorua-based athlete, who is coached by big sister and shot put icon Dame Valerie Adams, fired the 3kg ball to 15.18m in Lower Hutt in February and earlier this month added 1cm to her season’s best at the Jennian Homes New Zealand Track & Field Championships in Wellington when striking gold. Her world record, which stands at 15.50m, could be vulnerable.

5 – How fast can Rosie go?

One of the great enduring stories of the 2023 season has been the ongoing form and post-race (or for that matter even pre-race) interviews with the charismatic Rosie Elliott. The national 400m champion set her PB for the distance of 52.16 in Whanganui and will be hoping for good conditions to attack the 43-year-old national record of Kim Robertson, which stands at 51.60. Rosie has all the credentials and last month lowered the 14-year-old national women’s 200m record of Monique Dell by running a blistering 22.81 in Christchurch.

6 – Maddi hopes to continue great form

Is there is a cooler competitor on the big stage than Maddi Wesche? Complete with trademark sunglasses, Maddi is in excellent form this season as evidenced by her massive 19.13m toss to retain her New Zealand title in Wellington earlier this month – the second longest throw of her career. Competing on home territory the 23-year-old West Aucklander will doubtless revel in the atmosphere and could be in form to approach or even better her personal best of 19.50m set when placing seventh at the 2022 World Athletics Championships in Eugene.

7 – Tiaan set for strong overseas challenge

The withdrawal of New Zealand 100m champion Tiaan Whelpton from the men’s 100m showdown because of a bout of Covid is a blow but we still have a potentially explosive Kiwi v Australia face off. A five-strong contingent from across the ditch is led by Aussie champion Jake Doran, however, the Kiwis will provide strong opposition led by Hamish Gill, who ran a PB of 10.39 in Sydney last weekend and national 110m hurdles champion Josh Hawkins – who is in red-hot form over the hurdles and on the flat this season.

8 – Tanaka heads world-class 1500m field

New Zealand’s elite women’s 1500m runners – Laura Nagel and Rebekah Greene – face a supreme test from a powerhouse group of overseas athletes for what could be one of the races of the evening at Trusts Arena. Leading the opposition is Japan’s Olympic 1500m eighth place finisher Nozomi Tanaka, who boasts a lifetime of 3:59.19, while her countrywoman Ran Urabe (4:07.90) will also be prominent. The US duo Rebecca Mehra (4:04.90) and Madeline Strandemo (4:12.68) will add another exciting dimension to what is the best women’s 1500m line up in New Zealand for many years.

9 – Para sprinters set to excel

New Zealand’s leading para sprinters enjoyed a successful 2023 Jennian Homes New Zealand Track & Field Championships and will be all wanting to make their mark over the 100m in Auckland. Mitch Joynt – the T64 sprinter set an Oceania 200m record in Wellington – and having come close to a PB in the 100m this season, he will be the athlete to watch at Trusts Arena. Look out too for double Paralympic sprint medallist Danielle Aitchison who is in outstanding form and should conditions be right, she will be looking to threaten her national T36 100m record of 13.85.

10 – Trans Tasman Relay clashes

The championships will also serve up a couple of tasty Aussie v Kiwi 4x100m battles which should provide some high-octane entertainment. In the men’s event, the New Zealand team of Josh Hawkins, Cody Wilson, Hamish Gill and James Guthrie-Croft will look to inflict defeat on the visiting Aussie teams. While a top-quality Kiwi women’s quartet – anchored by Zoe Hobbs – will be keen to claim bragging rights in the women’s equivalent.

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