News & Updates

4 August 2021 • High Performance

Tom Walsh and Jacko Gill through to Olympic shot put final

Jacko Gill and Tom Walsh compete in the men’s Olympic shot put qualifying (Photo credit: Alisha Lovrich)

For the second time, Kiwi shot putters Tom Walsh and Jacko Gill have both qualified for an Olympic shot put final.

Tom Walsh was up first in qualifying group A and came out on top, but it was not without drama.

Tom’s first throw looked over the auto qualifying mark, but given a red flag for a no throw. On his second throw his foot appeared to clip a ground microphone near the top of the circle, and again he was given a red flag. But following an appeal his throw was reinstated, 20.38m putting him in 8th position going into the third and final qualifying round.  

Tom rallied and delivered, his third effort travelling well past the auto qualifying mark, but again the red flag was raised. It was an anxious wait while the throw was reviewed, with uncertainty around which way the decision would go. After he had packed up and begun to leave the stadium with the rest of the field the no throw was over-turned and his third throw of 21.49m was reinstated, with Tom ending up top qualifier in group A.

Tom said the whole process was nerve-wracking for everyone involved: “It definitely took a few years off my life, but to be completely honest I don’t know where I was getting called for a foul on any of the throws. And obviously two of them got overturned, so look, I just go through the same processes and they work obviously because I got it done. When he held up that red flag on the last throw I was like I’ve got no idea buddy where you’re looking, clearly it was overturned and it was a good throw.”

Tom said it felt like a long and nervous wait for the result, and frustrating to not be able to see any footage on the big screens in the stadium. “It’s going to take a while to come down from for sure. The idea tonight was to come here and throw it in the first round, and walk out the back of the circle and pack your bags, which I did in the first round but I got called for a foul. Then had a second attempt which was a really horrible throw, and then the third attempt was actually a really nice throw and exactly what I thought I needed.”

“We’re lucky now where it’s the 21st century and we can go back and look at video and get it changed like that, and I’m very grateful for that.”

After the drama of Tom Walsh’s qualification in group A, Jacko’s qualification in group B was more straightforward, although he was unable to meet the auto qualifying standard so it took a strong final throw to secure his place in the top 12 and the final.

The Auckland-based thrower, who was ninth at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, opened with 20.65m followed by 20.52m in the second round. It looked like the final might be slipping away, as his fellow competitors delivered strong results moving Jacko down the field, before his third round throw of 20.96m secured him 9 th place overall, with 12 progressing to the final on Thursday.

Jacko said it was a stressful wait for his final position to be confirmed: “There wasn’t a graphic, so I didn’t know if I was good enough or if I was through or not. Obviously would have liked to hit the auto qualification, so a little disappointed in myself but stoked to get through.”

Jacko has been a very consistent championship performer in recent times. In February in Christchurch, he set a then PB of 21.52m and matched this mark one week later in Hamilton. Over the New Zealand summer season he defeated Tom several times, and said it was exciting to line up in their second Olympic final together: “Very excited, I think it’s now six years in a row me and Tom have been in the top 12 in the world, so it’s really awesome, a huge privilege, and just to be there with Tom is awesome.”