News & Updates

20 August 2023 • High Performance

Walsh fourth and Gill sixth in thrilling shot put final

Tom Walsh (left) and Jacko Gill place fourth and sixth in the men’s shot put final inside the National Athletics Centre in Budapest. Credit: (Michael Dawson).

Tom Walsh and Jacko Gill further underlined the strength of New Zealand throwing by finishing fourth and sixth respectively in a compelling men’s shot put competition on day one of the 2023 World Athletics Championships in Budapest.

Walsh unleashed a best for the day of 22.05m, but ultimately finished 7cm behind Joe Kovacs the bronze medallist, as the 31-year-old Kiwi placed fourth at a second successive World Championships.

Gill produced a best of 21.76m in round three to briefly move into the medals but can be proud of his efforts to finish sixth and register his best ever World Championships finish.

Gold went to Ryan Crouser who defied blood clots in his lower leg in the build up to the championship to toss the second longest throw in history – a mighty championship record of 23.51m – in the final round. Italian Leonardo Fabbri hurled a PB of 22.34m to claim a surprising silver medal.

Inside a buzzing National Athletics Centre, Crouser led from his first round effort of 22.63m with Gill posting 20.33m and Walsh a foul in the opening stanza.

Both Kiwis started to find their range in round two with Walsh moving into provisional silver with a 21.69m toss and Gill hurling a handy 21.46m effort.

While Gill executed his best of the day with his third attempt, Walsh continued to improve with a 21.93m mark only for Fabbri to unleash his a 35cm PB to relegate Walsh, the 2017 World champion, to bronze at the halfway stage.

There was no improvement for Walsh (21.40m) and Gill (21.33m) in round four. However, Kovacs advanced into bronze in round five with a mighty 22.12m despite Walsh responding with his best of the day (22.05m) as the Kiwi slipped from the podium positions.

Unfortunately, there was no dramatic twist in the final round as Walsh registered 21.51m and Gill climaxed his competition with 21.28m.

Crouser, who set a championship record of 22.98m in round two, added a further 53cm to this mark with his stunning final throw of the competition, which came within 5cm of his world record.

Walsh said: “I’m really happy with the type of shape I’m in both physically and mentally, so to not take advantage of that is pretty frustrating. Two fourths in a row (at World Championships) is not a lovely position, that’s for sure.

“I think anyone is capable of in the men’s shot put right now, so it was not unexpected that Fabbri would throw a long way. It is awesome for him and frustrating for everyone else involved. Very rarely do you have a perfect build up whoever it is, so Ryan threw really well with his last throw. I definitely didn’t feel like he was out of reach for any of us into the last round, I’m just disappointed in myself not putting a throw together. I felt like I could have really pushed him and made him work for it.”

Earlier in the session, Sam Tanner retained his composure in a frantic finish to bank a spot into the 1500m semifinals, placing fourth in heat two in a time of 3:46.93.

In a slow run heat, Sam, 22, became boxed in on the final lap but did not panic and running from he inside rail he produced sufficient speed down the home stretch to secure one of the six qualification spots.

In a thrilling finale, Spain’s Mario Garcia took out the heat win in 3:46.77 as a little under half-a-second separated the top eight. The 2019 world champion Timothy Cheruiyot of Kenya squeezed into the semifinal by just 0.07 in sixth (3:47.09).

A delighted Sam said: “It was a bit of a tactical one, I really enjoy those sorts of races. We got out slow for the first two laps and I put myself in a good position. I was pretty comfortable with who I was following, and my goal was to stay relaxed. The inside lane opened up with a 100m to go, so I made a bit of a (Nick) Willis move. I’m happy with that.”

There was disappointment for national record-holder Connor Bell in the men’s discus qualification as the World Championships debutant finished 13th – one place and 7cm shy of a spot in the final.

The 22-year-old Aucklander acquitted himself with pride, responding to an open round foul by launching the 2kg implement out to 63.72m to move into the top 12 after round two. Ultimately, however, Bell just slipped out of the leading dozen places as he committed a final round foul to fall short of his final ambitions.  

Olympic champion Daniel Stahl led the qualifiers with a best of 66.25m. German Henrik Janssen advanced to the final in 12th with a best of 63.79m.

Bell said: “I have mixed emotions, in one breath I’m happy with my performance going into the championships ranked 15th and throwing high 63m, it is not a bad result but in the same breath it does sting a little bit.”

“I had a good warm up throw, a foul in round two and a good safety throw in round two. Going into third round ranked 13th with the last throw on the day it was a tough one to manage my first worlds. The biggest thing was to take a breath and take my time (ahead of his third round throw). Unfortunately, it didn’t play out my way.”

On his World Championships debut, Tiaan Whelpton exited the competition after placing sixth in heat one of the men’s 100m, clocking 10.26.

Running in a quality heat, featuring world number one Zharnel Hughes of Great Britain, the Christchurch-based sprinter made a solid start but fell 0.12 shy of his personal best inside the National Athletics Centre. Hughes took out the heat win in 10.00 – 0.01 ahead of Ryiem Forde of Jamaica.

Whelpton said: “Mentally I went into this race just to enjoy it and really soak up the experience of running my first major. I was in a very competitive heat with Zharnel Hughes and the other sub-10-second boys. I thought to myself I can only surprise people, nobody is expecting anything of me, so I’m going to give it my best shot. I had a great start, good drive phase I just couldn’t compete with that top end speed with the boys, but all in all I’m very happy with my race.”

***Note, following the publication of the above session wrap, Connor Bell was later upgraded to 12th position in qualification and features in the final of the men’s discus on Tuesday morning (NZ time) following a successful review of a throw by Swedish athlete Simon Pettersson.

Three New Zealand athletes will be in action in the first session on Day 2 of the 2023 World Athletics Championships.

Sunday (20 August) All times NZ

19:51 – Rosie Elliott – Women’s 400m – First Round Heat 3

20:35 – Hamish Kerr – Men’s High Jump qualification

22:52 – Zoe Hobbs – Women’s 100m – First Round Heat 7

*Follow timetable/results here

*Profiles of all 19 New Zealand athletes competing in Budapest plus a full schedule of when the Kiwis are competing can be seen here