News & Updates

20 August 2023 • High Performance

Walsh, Gill and Beamish make flying start for New Zealand

George Beamish makes history to become the first Kiwi to qualify for a steeplechase final at the World Athletics Championships. Credit: (Michael Dawson).

In a perfect start for the New Zealand team all three competing Kiwi athletes in the opening session on Day 1 of the 2023 World Athletics Championships in Budapest comfortably advanced to the final of their respective events.

In the men’s shot put, Tom Walsh and Jacko Gill impressed to both earn safe passage through to their fifth successive World Championships final and George Beamish created history by becoming the first Kiwi to reach a World Championships steeplechase final with a composed performance.

Following a delay to the action by an hour because of the stormy weather, Walsh shrugged off the inconvenience to power out the 7.26kg shot to a thunderous 21.73m with his first round throw. The effort was 33cm in advance of the qualification mark, securing his spot in the final with the minimum of fuss to top the Group B qualifiers and finish third overall.

The 2017 world champion and 2019 world bronze medallist has been in fine form in recent weeks –highlighted by his 22.58m hurl in London last month – and he will seek to add more precious metal to his already impressive collection in the final.

Gill left his best until last achieving an auto-qualifying mark with his third throw of 21.49m to advance sixth best into the final. The 28-year-old national champion opened with a 20.83m effort before following with a foul in round two. However, he found his range with his third and final attempt and will be confident of a strong showing in the final at 06:37 on Sunday.

World Indoor champion Darlan Romani of Brazil topped the qualifiers with a season’s best of 22.37m ahead of Zane Weir of Italy (21.82m).

Olympic and world silver medallist Joe Kovacs (USA) only required one throw of 21.59m to progress to the final. World and Olympic champion Ryan Crouser, whose pre-event preparation has been badly hampered by blood clots in his lower leg, was seventh best in qualification courtesy of a first round throw of 21.48m.

Beamish was similarly impressive in the men’s steeplechase as he cruised into the final on Wednesday morning with a wonderfully mature performance to place second in heat two in a slick 8:16.36.

In his first year of senior steeplechasing, the 26-year-old Kiwi smashed the 39-year-old national record in Monaco last month – clocking 8:13.26 – and tonight inside the National Athletics Stadium he looked in supreme form.

Running the first 2km conservatively he then effortlessly moved his way through the field to finish strongly to comfortably secure his spot in the final behind world record-holder Lamecha Girma of Ethiopia, who took the heat win and topped the qualifiers in 8:15.89.

Beamish said: “I’m happy to make the final, I had a disappointing worlds last year in Eugene (when he missed out on a spot in the 5000m final), so it is nice to come back this year and get the job done.”

The final will only be the eighth senior steeplechase of his career but given his sparkling form in the heats he will be confident of a very good performance in the medal race.

Four New Zealand athletes will be in action in the second session on Day 1 of the 2023 World Athletics Championships.

Sunday (20 August) All times NZ

05:11 – Sam Tanner – Men’s 1500m – First Round Heat 2

05:43 – Tiaan Whelpton – Men’s 100m – First Round (TBC heat)

06:37 – Tom Walsh and Jacko Gill – Men’s Shot Put Final

06:43 – Connor Bell – Men’s Discus qualification group B

*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