News & Updates

18 March 2019 • General

Ten Takeaways from Nationals

We enjoyed a cracking three days of action at the 2019 Jennian Homes New Zealand Track & Field Championships in Christchurch last weekend. Here are ten takeaways from the marquee event of the domestic track and field campaign.

1 – Nga Puna Wai rocks

After eight long years since the Christchurch earthquake destroyed the city’s QE11 Stadium, New Zealand’s second city of Christchurch finally has an all-weather facility. Boasting an eye-catching blue track Nga Puna Wai proved a big success. Despite the challenging weather conditions, the officials did a sterling job keeping the event on schedule and with the New Zealand Track & Field Championships returning to the same venue next year, organisers can look forward with confidence to putting on another great champs in 2020.

2 – Sam the Man

Described by the stadium announcer as “the heir apparent” to New Zealand two-time Olympic medallist Nick Willis, Sam Tanner’s performance in winning the senior men’s 1500m at Nga Puni Wha was utterly captivating. While it may be premature to talk of Tanner as one day matching the accomplishments of Willis, the US-bound 18-year-old from Papamoa Beach is one the hottest middle-distance property of his generation. The way Tanner accelerated to catch and pass the six-time former 1500m champion and Rio Olympian Hamish Carson was simply scintillating.

3 – Para athletics in great shape

A record-breaking 40 Para athletes attended the New Zealand Track & Field Championships and the performance levels were also of a rip-roaring standard. Unofficial world best marks were achieved by Lisa Adams (F37) and Tayla Clement (F43) in the women’s shot. Paralympic 400m and 800m T36 bronze medallist and Christchurch local William Stedman impressed in the 200m, 400m and long jump. Meanwhile, with the likes of Waikato teenage T36 sprinter Danielle Aitchison and wheelchair racing enjoying a resurgence, the Para segment of the sport has never looked stronger.

4 – Ten up for Tom

A tenth national title for world champion shot put ace Tom Walsh is perhaps no great surprise but for those keen on their statistics will note his winning toss of 21.70m is the longest throw he has ever produced at a national championships. Ever the realist, Tom spoke about having to throw well in excess of 22m to compete when it counts during the international season climaxing with the World Championships in Doha. However, the early signs are encouraging that Tom, with the wily input of his coach, Dale Stevenson, are working well towards this year’s pinnacle event.

5 – Race walkers walk, the walk

While Kiwi throwers, vaulters and middle-distance athletes have garnered much of the attention in more recent times, New Zealand have also performed with distinction in race walking thanks to the exploits of two-time Olympian Quentin Rew and Commonwealth silver medallist Alana Barber. Both Quentin and Alana landed  national 10km race walk titles at the weekend and hope to be involved in the Doha World Championships. The sport also looks in decent order among the younger age-groups with Daniel Du Toit of Wellington and Auckland’s Nelson McCutcheon both excelling.

6 – High times

New Zealand high jumping is enjoying a resurgence led by Hamish Kerr, who in December advanced to number two on the all-time NZ rankings with a 2.25m clearance, and who over the weekend secured a fourth national title. On the women’s side look out for 17-year-old Josephine Reeves, who set a personal best of 1.84m en route to the national women’s senior title. She has the potential to be a future star.

7 – All round sprint ace

It was not perhaps the fact that Zoe Hobbs completed the senior women’s 100m and 200m double which most impressed, but more the manner of her success. The 21-year-old, who blitzed to a 100m lifetime best of 11.37 to climb to number two in the all-time NZ rankings in January, took out the 100m crown in chilly conditions at Christchurch in 11.61. Yet that performance was surpassed in the 200m as she blasted to the title in 23.22 – within 0.03 of her PB – which next to Tom Walsh’s shot was, arguably, the performance of the championships. The World University Games remains the main international target for the season but qualification for the World Championships is not unrealistic.

8 – Fast Eddie impresses

In the absence of defending champion Joseph Millar in the senior men’s 100m, the uber-talented 17-year-old Eddie Osei-Nketia fully embraced his chance to impress. Despite competing with a sore hamstring the Scots College teen powered down the track in 10.64 to take the national senior title. Already boasting a lifetime best of 10.30, to sit fourth on the all-time New Zealand rankings, Eddie has the ability to break the national record of 10.11 held by his father, Gus, and beyond that, who knows?

9 – Katherine the great

For the best part of a decade Angie Petty has stood atop the pinnacle of female middle-distance running in New Zealand, however, during this season and over the course of the NZ Track & Field Champs, it was Katherine Camp who reigned supreme. Stronger than ever under the coaching of Maria Hassan, the Waikato-raised Christchurch-based runner looked majestic in completing the 800m and 1500m double. The next question is can the 27-year-old make the next step up to qualify for major championships?

10 – Portia’s class shines through

Competing in the very worst of the conditions, Portia Bing was never likely to threaten her national 400m hurdles record of 56.04 she set in February. However, after comfortably retaining her title in Christchurch in the wet, her next target is to find the 0.04 she requires to meet the qualification mark place for the 2019 World Championships in Doha. She should take heart from Norwegian Karsten Warholm. The world 400m hurdles champion was, like Portia, a former multi-eventer, who has converted to the event known as the “man killer” and enjoyed supreme success.