News & Updates

11 June 2022 • Track and Field

World U20 bound trio thrive in Mackay

Will Anthony set a championship record on the way to a resounding victory in the men's U20 3000m. (Credit: Alan McDonald).

New Zealand gorged themselves on a further nine medals including five gold on the final day of the Oceania Area Championships in Mackay spearheaded by World U20 bound trio – Will Anthony, James Harding and Natalia Rankin-Chi Tar – who all struck gold.

James and Natalia completed middle-distance and throws doubles, respectively, while Will delivered by securing a championship record in the men’s U20 3000m to sign off the Kiwi track challenge on a high in Mackay.

For all three athletes – who were part of the Athletics NZ Gold Coast Tour designed to give them a taste of how to travel, live and train ahead of a pinnacle event – they enjoyed a timely a boost ahead of the World U20 Championships in Cali, Colombia in August with Will producing a performance of both maturity and class to win the men’s U20 3000m.

Smartly sheltering from the wind behind the lead two runners for the first kilometre, he then hit the front and by halfway had opened up a clear gap on the field.

Running in splendid isolation for the second half of the race the 18-year-old Wellington-based athlete zipped home to destroy the previous championship record by more than 18 seconds, clocking 8:20.37. Aussie Douglas Buckeridge took silver in 8:36.76.

Will, the New Zealand U19 3000m record-holder, said: “I’m pretty stoked. I came in today hoping to go for a good time, with the main goal to win in a championship record. I knew I had the legs in me and took the first kilometre pretty steadily before coming through. It was tough going in the wind so I’m happy to come away with the win.

“It was my second race outside of New Zealand and first time on the track (outside of New Zealand). It was a relief after spending a few weeks in Australia. It was set me up well for Cali (World U20s). It is good acclimatisation for the heat and good to have a tactical element rather than running from the front because I know I will be racing some very fast guys (at World U20s).”

James Harding added the Oceania U20 800m title to the 1500m crown he captured on Friday with a decisive win in the two-lap race.

The 18-year-old Aucklander was happy to carry out sit and kick tactics, but his ferocious burst of pace over the final 100m proved unstoppable as he won in 1:53.80 – more than a second-and-a-half clear of Australian Hayden Todd in silver.

“I’m really happy with that last 100m, I felt like I got my groove back,” said James. “It was huge confidence booster leading into the World (U20) Championships in about five weeks.

“I was pretty stoked he (Todd) took it on, especially with the wind being so strong but thankfully he did and I got my tactics right.

“I compete in back to back days at World Champs, so to have done so here and backed it up today feeling relatively fresh will hopefully be a good thing in Colombia.”

After claiming the women’s U20 shot put title on Friday, Natalia today also bagged the discus crown with a commanding performance.

The Aucklander put her nose in front in round two with a 46.79m throw before adding an extra 58cm to that mark in the next stanza. She saved her best throw for round five as 49.33m secured the title from Ashlyn Blackstock (46.62m) of Australia.

“In the pre-comp I only threw 40m, so today was quite a big difference and I’m happy with performance,” adds Natalia. “The performance in Gold Coast was disappointing but the big difference today was I had my coach John Eden with me.

“I’m very happy. It helps with my confidence leading into worlds (U20s).”

Adam Stack produced the performance of his life to take gold in the men’s U20 high jump with a lifetime best leap of 2.07m.

In a gruelling competition in which the Christchurch-based jumper who is coached by James Sandilands, attempted 15 heights in a relatively short period, his second time clearance at 2.07m – a 2cm PB – pocketed the gold medal from Aussie Lochlan Curry.

Adam, who originally hails from Nelson and was supported on the sidelines by proud mum and gran, said: “For the past two-and-a-half weeks I’ve been training in Gold Coast (as another member of the Athletics NZ Tour) but I’ve had a lot of doubts. I only jumped 1.90m in Gold Cast and I didn’t have a lot of positive thoughts coming into this. But we completely changed my run up about six days before the comp and it has paid off.

“This is my best achievement in the sport. I promised some people I would take my name to the world, and this is one step closer.”

New Zealand banked gold and silver in the women’s para shot as Paralympic shot put F37 champion Lisa Adams took gold with a best of 14.45m in round two – a little over a metre shy of her world record. Paralympic javelin F46 gold medallist Holly Robinson competing in her less familiar shot put earned silver with a best of 10.51m.

Tokyo Paralympian Caitlin Dore finished fifth with a best of 8.68m while there was joy for Sionnan Murphy. Just one day after capturing the national women’s discus F37 U18, U19 and U20 records she achieved the same feat in the shot – cladding 7cm on to her record with a best of 8.02m. She placed seventh overall.

New Zealand secured silver medals in the women’s U20 800m and 3000m. In the former event, Emma Ferguson (2:14.85) added silver to the 1500m bronze she won on Friday as Australia’s Hayley Kitching (2:08.25) triumphed in a championship record.

In the seven-and-a-half lap race Hannah Gapes stuck bravely to Nicola Hogg for the first half of the race before the Australian gradually pulled ahead to win in a championship record 9:30.62. Hannah, the New Zealand U20 5000m champion, was rewarded with silver in 9:40.57.

Nadia Evans added Oceania U20 200m bronze to the 100m bronze she grabbed on Friday, clocking 25.23 (1.5m/s) to finish almost a full second behind gold medallist Hayley Reynolds of Australia.

New Zealand completed the full trifecta of para shot medals on the final day at the Mackay Aquatic and Recreation Complex as Benza Tuimaseve F37 added bronze with a best of 12.58m. Australia’s F38 athlete Cam Crombie (15.72m) struck gold. Kiwi teenager Rorie Poff (F38) on his international debut placed fifth with a best of 9.83m.

Kiwi Max Abbot came within 35cm of his PB to throw 52.40m and place fourth in the men’s U20 discus. Darcy Miller (56.16m) led home an Australian clean sweep of the podium.

Angus Lyver, who on Friday won U20 long jump silver, placed fourth in the men’s U20 200m final clocking 21.94 (2.1m/s). Connor Bond of Australia struck gold in 21.22.

For full results go here