News & Updates

6 January 2022 • Track and Field

Zoe Hobbs hopes to shine in Lovelock Classic

Zoe Hobbs hopes for another good performance at the Lovelock Classic in Timaru (Credit: Alisha Lovrich).

Fresh from her stunning New Zealand women’s 100m record, Zoe Hobbs is targeting the Lovelock Classic in Timaru on Saturday (8 Jan) for her eagerly-anticipated first competitive appearance of 2022.

The 24-year-old Auckland-based sprinter became the outright record-holder of the national 100m record – having previously shared the mark with Michelle Seymour at 11.32 – posting a blistering 11.27 (+1.7m/s) at the McKinnon Shield meet at Mt Smart Stadium in December.

Now Zoe, who hails from Taranaki, plans to compete at Aorangi Park for the first time since winning 100m gold and 200m bronze at the 2015 New Zealand Secondary Schools Championships.

“It is quite nice to mix it up and go somewhere I haven’t been for many years to compete,” explains Zoe, who will making her debut appearance at the Lovelock Classic. “In New Zealand we face that awkward gap over the Christmas/new year period when competition stops for a while, so by coming down here to compete (early in the new year) helps bridge that gap.”

On Saturday, Zoe will face a stellar challenge led by Canterbury’s Anna Percy, who propelled herself to number three on the all-time lists after running a stunning 11.40 in Christchurch in December, former 100m senior women’s national medallists, Rosie Elliott, Livvy Wilson and Brooke Somerfield as well as reigning New Zealand 100m hurdles and 400m hurdles champions Amy Robertson and Portia Bing.

While Zoe is hugely impressed by the high-quality opposition she will face in Timaru, she is determined to focus on herself.  

“I want to run through the motions of the race, solidify what I’ve been practising in training, get my start right and then the transition through to the finish,” she says. “I hope to execute everything a little better and improve through the rest of the season.”

The 2019 World Championship representative admits she was “a little surprised” to have secured the outright New Zealand record last month but she says the performance was reflective of her training and the excellent conditions she experienced at Mt Smart Stadium.

Based in Omaha – one hour north of Auckland – for much of the Christmas/New Year break allowed her to travel back to AUT Millennium daily for training with her coach, James Mortimer, and she feels the uninterrupted training period will stand her in good stead for the rest of the domestic season.

The opening Classic meet of the 2022 season has attracted a record-breaking 139 entries which bears testament to the rising status of the Lovelock Classic. Besides a high-class women’s 100m the men’s 100m should also serve up some mouth-watering action as national champion Shay Veitch lines up against Canterbury’s Tiaan Whelpton, who last year climbed to number five on the all-time New Zealand lists with an impressive 10.30, and Otago-based duo Felix McDonald and Schuyler Orr.

Leading the entrants for the women’s 200m is national champion Georgia Hulls.

The traditional marquee events of the meeting – the Lovelock Mile and the women’s mile – will once again serve up high quality competition with the former event featuring a record-breaking 30 entries split into an A and a B race. Leading the challengers will be the champions of the past two years – Daniel Roswell (2021) and Chanel Muir (2020) – who will face the likes of Cameron Clark, James Ford, Dylan Forde, George Guerin and Max Yanzick.

National 800m champion Katherine Camp will be hunting a hat-trick of victories in the women’s mile with New Zealand 3000m bronze medallist Anneke Grogan among her main opposition.

Elsewhere, New Zealand 100m hurdles champion Amy Robertson will start favourite in her speciality event while Portia Bing competes in the women’s 400m. National 400m bronze medallist John Gerber leads the entrants in the men’s one-lap event with Gareth Harcombe expected to be prominent in the men’s 800m.

Note, a pair of New Zealand women’s 4 x100 metres relay quartets will race at the end of the meet with the aim of securing a qualifying performance for the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

In the field, two-time Paralympic gold medallist, Anna Grimaldi (Otago) returns to in action in the women’s long jump while a high-class men’s long jump will feature national champion Shay Veitch and Felix McDonald. Two-time national champion Keeley O’Hagan will be among the main contenders in the women’s high jump.

In the women’s discus and shot, gifted Tapanesia Havea (Canterbury), who in recent weeks has set Canterbury U20 records in both events, will be another worth watching.

The meeting will commence from 1pm on Saturday.

Words: Steve Landells with help from Don Garland