World Indoor Championships Preview – Team New Zealand

Tom Walsh goes into the World indoor Championships in Birmingham this weekend as the defending champion in the shot put and the 25 year old part time builder will be aiming to repeat his win at the last edition of the World Indoor Championships in Portland, Oregon in 2016.

Since Portland, the Christchurch shot putter has grabbed the Rio 2016 Olympic bronze medal and won the World Outdoor Championships title in 2017.  He also has the confidence that he can perform when it matters and when the pressure is on.

LONDON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 06: Tomas Walsh of New Zealand celebrates after winning old in the Men’s Shot Put during day three of the 16th IAAF World Athletics Championships London 2017 at The London Stadium on August 6, 2017 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images for IAAF)

Walsh has the longest outdoor throw in the world in 2018 with a 21.87m at the Porritt Classic in early February, but will be under pressure from Czech Tomas Stanek who threw 22.17m indoors four days earlier and Polish 20 year old Konrad Bukowiecki who threw 22.00m two weeks ago.

The American challenge has not eventuated, with Olympic champion Ryan Crouser and runner-up Joe Kovacs not contesting the American trials for the championships and winner Ryan Whiting throwing just 20.65m.

Walsh will be in action in the men’s shot put final at 12:45am on Sunday morning (NZ time).

While Walsh heads into the championships with some good form behind him, pole vaulter Eliza McCartney goes into the championships very much an unknown quantity.

Although setting a New Zealand and Oceania record of 4.82m in February last year, her European campaign was affected by an Achilles injury that limited her ability to train and compete. She vaulted 4.75m in the Rome Diamond League, but could only clear 4.55m for ninth place at the World Championships in London.

London was her last competition until she came out and vaulted a very respectable 4.70m of a short 10-stride run-up in Hastings in January in her first competition. Since then her only competition has been at the Australian Championships where she struggled moving to a longer 14 stride run-up.

The 21 year old’s coach Jeremy McColl said she was in good shape and is confident of good a showing in Birmingham at 7:00am on Sunday (NZ time).

Her main rivals are also in good shape too with current Olympic and World champion Ekaterini Stefanidi from Greece clearing 4.83m recently and the American trials producing medal performances of 4.91m, 4.86m and 4.81m.

Two years ago McCartney was an unheralded 19 year old and cleared an NZ indoor record 4.70m to finish fifth at her first major championship in Portland. This year she goes in with a realistic chance of setting a new national record and breaking into the medals.

Two Kiwi athletes will be competing in the men’s 3000m at the championships and will be first up in the heats at 1:50am on Saturday (NZ time). Rio Olympic 1500m runner Hamish Carson and US-based Julian Oakley have times ranking them 10th and 15threspectively in the 25-strong field.

With both athletes having strong sprint finishes, they will be hoping to make the final.

NZ athlete schedule World Indoor Championships 1 – 4 March 2018 in Birmingham, UK:

Men 3000m heats                            Julian Matthews & Hamish Carson   1:50am Sat 3 March

Men shot put final                           Tom Walsh                                    12:45am Sun 4 March

Women pole vault final                    Eliza McCartney                             7:00am Sun 4 March

Men 3000m final                                                                      4:35am Mon 5 March

Courtesy of Athletics New Zealand