World shot put champions Tom Walsh and Dame Valerie Adams start their Olympic Games year at the annual Potts Classic meeting at the Hawke’s Bay Regional Sports Park on Saturday.
In his recent update Walsh said he is keen to get back in the circle at the Potts Classic.
“It’s a great little meet and a good chance to spin the wheels and see what happens. The real focus in the early part of this year is NZ Nationals to be held again in Christchurch in early March and then the week later the World Athletics World Indoor Championships in Nanjing, China. I’m defending World Indoor Champ from Birmingham two years ago and Portland 2016 and while I know I’ve made gains, World Champs last year certainly showed how others have also made gains. I’m very keen to get back on top and make it three in a row for World Indoors. No one has ever done three in a row.
“The domestic season and World Indoors sets me up for the international season and through to Tokyo Olympics.”
Walsh was the 2017 outdoor world champion, the 2018 Commonwealth champion, bronze medallist at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games and third at last year’s world championships in Doha with his best performance of 22.90m.
Ryan Ballantyne will be out to improve on his best of 19.12m from the World University Games in Italy last July. National junior champion Nick Palmer comes into the competition with a best of 17.66m with the 7.26kg shot. Nathaniel Sulupo who was out to 15.64m at the Sola Power meeting has entered.
Also competing is 20 metre putter Jan Jeuschede from Germany who finished fifth with 18.86m at last season’s national championships in Christchurch.
Adams four times world outdoor and indoor champion, twice Olympic and three times Commonwealth Games champion has a best of 21.24m as she embarks on her Tokyo Olympic Games programme.
The women’s shot put has attracted a top class field which includes national champion and world junior champion Maddison-Lee Wesche who has a best of 18.32m, Torie Owers second at the New Zealand championships and has a best of 17.50m, Te Rina Keenan the 2015 national champion who has recorded 16.11m and Kaia Tupu-South who qualified for the world junior championships last Saturday in Lower Hutt with 15.12m. Keenan is also in the discus.
Interest will also centre on the men’s 100m where the first three from Whanganui on Saturday Edward Osei-Nketia, Joseph Millar and Cody Wilson line up again along with Hamish Gill, James Guthrie-Croft, national under 17 record holder Jacob Stockwell, Tommy Te Puni and Jordan Bolland. Tiaan Whelpton down to race has withdrawn with an injury. Osei-Nketia, Millar and Wilson will also contest the 200m.
Zoe Hobbs, Livvy Wilson, Natasha Eady, Georgia Hulls, Sophie Williams, Abby Goldie and Rosie Elliott present a strong line-up in the women’s 100m. Wilson is also competing in the 200m. Tayla Brunger and Annalies Kalma should fight out the 400m.
Katherine Camp winner in 2018 heads the field for the women’s 800m raced in memory of Sylvia Potts. Jenny Hauke back from Germany for a break, Krystie Solomon who showed good form last weekend in Auckland, Kerry White, Ariana Harper and Kara Macdermid are also in the field.
Efekemo Okoro from England who has a best 400m of 46.73 will compete in the 400m. Michael Dawson will be looking to break 1:50.00 for 800m again this season. Marshall Hall, Connor Bell and Alexander Parkinson should produce some top throws in the discus.
National champion Anthony Nobilo is the sole competitor in the hammer throw. Commonwealth Games gold medallist Julia Ratcliffe, five times national champion Nicole Bradley and former national junior champion Lauren Bruce head up the women’s hammer throw.
Olivia McTaggart who has a best of 4.46m and will compete in the pole vault which she won in 2017, was second in 2018 and third last year. Nicholas Southgate and James Steyn are in the men’s pole vault.
Jordan Peters and Matthew Wyatt are in the long jump and Scott Thomson in the triple jump. The country’s leading women long jumpers Ashleigh Bennett, Genna Maples and Briana Stephenson are entered.
The New Zealand 3000m championships are being held in conjunction with the meeting. Hayden Wilde, Connor Melton, Harry Dixon, Niam Macdonald-Joslin, Matthew Taylor, Ieuan van der Peet, Caden Shields, Andres Hernandez, Joshua Baan and William Sinclair line up as contenders for the men’s title, while Maiya Christini fifth last year will be up against Anneke Grogan for the women’s title.
Wilde is in good form winning in Tauranga on New Year’s Day in 8:20.04, Melton was eighth last year in 8:23.85 and Macdonald-Joslin seventh in 8:22.84. Dixon has a best of 8:18.45 in the States in 2015 and Shields 8:18.51 also in the States in 2010. Hernandez was fourth in the under 20 championship last week in a personal best 8:33.89.
Athletics New Zealand Correspondent