November 30, 2023

Shot putter Gill proves national title upset over Walsh no fluke with big PB

Jacko Gill and Tom Walsh contest Birmingham Commonwealth Games.

Newly crowned national champion Jacko Gill has followed up his upset of shot put rival Tom Walsh with a second straight victory over the former world champion at Auckland’s  Sir Graeme Douglas International.

Both Tokyo Olympic finalists struck early in the competition, before rain made conditions difficult for the throwers, with Gill hitting a personal best 22.12m with his opening throw, immediately answered by Walsh with 21.79m.

Neither could improve over the final five rounds, although Gill topped his old best with 21.92m with his second throw, followed by 21.78m with his third. Walsh’s next best efforts were a pair of 21.07m tosses.

“Stoked,” admitted Gill. “Can’t believe it, to be honest.

“Since I was probably 16, throwing 22 metres was always the dream. There were very few people over 22, so that was the mark.

“I’m really lucky to have Tom. I heard he was into his first week of winter training, so I really appreciate that.

“He’s always out there and always pushing me, and I wouldn’t be doing this, if it wasn’t for him.”

A former world junior recordholder and champion, Gill, 28, has taken a while to reach his potential in senior ranks in the shadow of Walsh, who had won 13 straight national titles, before his defeat at Wellington this month.

On the track, speedster Zoe Hobbs could not quite match her sensational sub-11 seconds form of earlier weeks, but still managed a legal 11.02s to prove her world class ability, beating Aussie rival Bree Masters by two metres.

“I mess up the start of that race,” she reflected, before learning of her time. “I started to rise too early, which meant I couldn’t accelerate for as long as I hoped for, but it’s a run under my belt and I’m just having fun out here racing.

“I’ve been quite flat coming into this week, so I didn’t have too much expectation. I just wanted to have fun and execute a race – unfortunately, I didn’t execute it how I wanted.”

Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Maddison Wesche managed 19.11m in the women’s shot put, with Paralympic champion Lisa Adams out to 14.68m.

NZ champion Shay Veitch closed within six centimetres of a 55-year-old national long jump record, with a legal 7.99m leap to finish second behind Australian Liam Adcock (8.18m).

Former Olympic pole vault medallist Eliza McCartney continued her comeback from several years plagued by injury, clearing 4.46m in miserable jumping conditions, with rivals Olivia McTaggart and Imogen Ayris no-heighting.

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