News & Updates

20 March 2022 • Track and Field

Tom banks brilliant World Indoor bronze in Serbia

Tom Walsh with his bronze medal at the World Athletics Indoor Championships in Belgrade, Serbia (Photo by Maja Hitij/Getty Images for World Athletics)

Tom Walsh claimed a fourth successive World Athletics Indoor Championship podium finish, winning a bronze medal in an exhilarating final courtesy of an Oceania record equalling throw of 22.31m.

The 30-year-old Kiwi set the tone for a high-class competition in Belgrade taking an early lead in round one, powering the shot out to a huge new season’s best effort of 22.29m only for his great rival Olympic champion Ryan Crouser of the USA to respond with the very next throw of the competition unleashing a 22.44m put.

Tom registered a foul in round two and posted a 21.78m mark in the third round but the major move was made by Brazilian Darlan Romani, who set a stunning championship record of 22.53m to elevate himself into gold and relegate the New Zealander to bronze.

Further fouls followed in rounds four and five for the Christchurch-based athlete before he left his best until last – yet again proving his remarkable ability to deliver when it counts most – to match his Oceania indoor record set at the 2018 edition of these championships with a 22.31m toss.

Unfortunately, it did change the final podium order as Romani, who finished fourth at the Tokyo Olympics, achieved the greatest feat of his career while Crouser was inflicted a first defeat since the 2019 World Championships.

Tom added a bronze medal to the two golds (2016, 2018) and bronze (2014) he has snared at the three previous editions of this championship.

“I’m happy with those two throws (22.29m and 22.31m), I didn’t completely get hold of one but you have to be really on at a major championship and we are all looking for that extra half of one per cent,” said Tom.

“I got really close, but not quite close enough. Darlan (Romani) was better than all of us on the day and he deserves it.

“The first round throw was one of the easiest of my life so to go that far was pretty cool. Not sticking one or two more together after that was frustrating because I was here in good enough shape to win it.

“I always hold myself in high regard for always showing up at major championships, and I’ve done that for seven or eight years now. It is great to get a season’s best out and know I’ve still got it.

“Today I threw the same distance as I did when I won this title four years ago to win it, so that shows men’s shot put has come on leaps and bounds. If you don’t go with it, you get left behind. I know I’m a better thrower and a better athlete than four years ago and it is now about me and my team figuring out how to throw even further.”

Another Kiwi performing with pride inside the Stark Arena, Olivia McTaggart claimed a highly creditable sixth in the women’s pole vault courtesy of her ice cool third time clearance at 4.60m. 

Despite being given a late invite, only arriving in Belgrade a little over 48 hours before the competition and competing in brand new poles, the 22-year-old vaulter shrugged off the challenges to perform magnificently in the biggest competition of her life. 

Comfortably soaring over her opening two heights at 4.30m and 4.45m, the Aucklander than survived a scare at 4.60m before a clutch third time clearance guaranteed a top six finish. 

Unfortunately, the 4.70m height – which would have been a 5cm PB plus an automatic entry standard for the 2022 World Championships – was beyond her on this occasion but the former World U20 and World University Games top six finisher can be immensely proud of her performance.  

Sandi Morris, the US vaulter, mounted a successful defence of her title winning with a best of 4.80m to defeat her compatriot Olympic champion Katie Nageotte (4.75m), who had to settle for silver.  

“I’m very happy, it was awesome to come out at my first major and get a result like that,” adds Olivia.

“I only landed in Belgrade at noon on Thursday, so I had a struggle to stay awake and get into the time zone in two days. It was not the best prep going into the biggest competition of my life, but it is something I am proud of.”

Unable to take her regular competition poles because airlines could not transport them, she competed on brand new poles which had been bought in Europe.

Despite this she cleared her first two heights with the minimum of fuss with Olivia adding: “It was a massive relief to come out at 4.30m and make a first-time clearance and I knew after my 4.45m clearance I had 4.60m in me. Although, I was sweating in my boots a bit needing a final attempt to clear hat height.

“Competing here was completely on another level to any other competition I’ve been at, and I was nervous coming in feeling I might not belong here. But I had been given an invite, so to come away with sixth against girls I’ve looked up to for years was an awesome experience. I just wanted to make people back home very proud of me and I think I’ve done that.”

The final two Kiwis are in action later today in the next session with Hamish Kerr in the men’s high jump at 10.45pm followed by Geordie Beamish at 12.10am (Monday) in the men’s 3000m.