News & Updates

2 March 2024 • Track and Field

Wesche places fourth at World Indoors with PB performance

Maddi Wesche makes a stunning indoor debut to place fourth in Glasgow. (Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images)

Maddi Wesche launched the New Zealand bid at the 2024 World Athletics Indoor Championships in style by setting a lifetime best of 19.62m to finish fourth – within 5cm of a podium spot – in the day one morning session at the Emirates Arena in Glasgow.

The performance maintained the 24-year-old Aucklander’s streak of having set a PB on the global stage at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and each of the past two World Athletics Championships to offer genuine confidence she could be a medal prospect at the Paris Olympics.

In a quality competition Sarah Mitton of Canada claimed gold with a best of 20.22m to finish ahead of German Yemisi Ogunleye who set a huge PB of 20.19m in round one. The 2022 and 2023 outdoor world champion Chase Jackson snared the bronze with 19.67m just ahead of the Kiwi in fourth.

Wesche, who was competing in her first competition since the 2023 World Championships last August, diced with danger in the early part of the competition following a first round foul with a modest 15.71m in round two. Requiring a big third round to bank a top eight spot and maintain further involvement in the final she responded to the pressure with admirable composure, powering the 4kg shot out to 19.32m to catapult up to fifth in the overall standings.

Letting out a smile of relief, Maddi relaxed and improved her distance by 1cm with a 19.33m effort in round four but remained fifth until unleashing a mighty 19.62m in round five to add 11cm to her PB set when seventh at the 2023 World Championships and move up the standings to fourth. Agonisingly close to the bronze medal position occupied by Jackson, unfortunately she fired her sixth round effort into the side netting to register a foul.

Mitton, the world outdoor silver medallist, edged ahead of Ogunleye, the long-time leader, by 1cm in round four before capping a memorable competition her sixth round throw of 20.22m.

An elated Wesche said: “I’m super happy. It was my first indoor competition, and I couldn’t have asked for more than a PB. Being so close to a medal is tough but this gives me confidence going into Paris.

“Nerves were definitely present for the first two throws but that’s all part of the game, and I’ve been in this position before. Experience took over and I was pumped I could have three more throws. I’m happy with 19.62m and I have lots of takeaways from my first indoor comp. I’m excited to get back home and start the next build up for the outdoor season.”

James Preston set a national indoor record of 1:47.59 to place fourth in heat one of the men’s 800m but was eliminated from the competition.

The 26-year-old, who has been in excellent form this season, clocking the third fastest 800m time of his career in Adelaide, led at the halfway checkpoint in 53.46 before quickly accelerating and opening up a three-metre advantage on the rest of the field down the back straight on the penultimate lap. Unfortunately, the Wellington-based athlete faded and had to settle for fourth as Mohamed Ali Gouaned of Algeria (1:46.49) and Botswana’s Tshepiso Masalela (1:46.76) secured the two automatic spots for a place in the semi-finals on Sunday morning.  

Preston lowered the previous New Zealand Indoor record of 1:48.68 set by James Harding in Boston last month.

Tiaan Whelpton narrowly exited the men’s 60m placing fifth in heat one in 6.67 – just 0.01 outside of an automatic top three spot which would have seen him progress to the semi-finals.

Competing in the first of seven heats, Whelpton, 23, made a good start and at the halfway stage appeared to hold a top three position.

However, the world 100m and 200m champion Noah Lyles of the USA put on the after burners to nab the heat win in 6.57 – 0.06 clear of Jeff Erius of France.

In a desperately tight tussle for third Aleksandar Askovic of Germany shaded a photo-finish from Austrian Markus Fuchs who were both credited with 6.66. Just one hundredth further back was Whelpton in fifth who then faced a nervous wait in the innovative Q Room – where athletes gather awaiting their fate as potential qualifiers on time. The Kiwi and national 100m champion sat through six heats until finally learning that he would not be quick enough to advance on time. 

The Kiwis competing in the second session on day one of the World Athletics Indoor Championships are: All times NZT.

08:14 – Maia Ramsden – Women’s 1500m Heat 2

09:20 – Tom Walsh and Jacko Gill – Men’s shot put final

09.37 – George Beamish – Men’s 1500m Heat 4

***For a full list of when the Kiwis compete go here

***For the full event timetable and results go here

***All the action at the World Athletics Indoor Championships will be livestreamed at World Athletics Inside Track. Sign up to follow the livestream and live results here