Mil­lar ‘a step up from all of us’

Nelson Mail - - SPORT - ANDREWVOERMAN

His name may have been scratched from the record books, but Chris Don­ald­son isn’t com­plain­ing.

The for­mer sprinter’s time of 20.42sec in the 200m had stood as the New Zealand record for 20 years un­til Sun­day, when Joseph Mil­lar went .05sec faster at the na­tional track and field cham­pi­onships in Hamil­ton, book­ing him­self a ticket to this year’s world cham­pi­onships and next year’s Com­mon­wealth Games.

‘‘The truth is that all records are there to be bro­ken, and there’s al­ways go­ing to be some­one who comes along who is quicker and faster,’’ said Don­ald­son.

‘‘I knew it would be bro­ken even­tu­ally and I was hop­ing it would be, to be hon­est, be­cause I love track and field and I love to see sprint­ing do well, and in New Zealand es­pe­cially.’’

Look­ing back at March 1997, when he set the old record in Mel­bourne, Don­ald­son re­called that it was an in­ter­est­ing era.

‘‘We had a group of very tal­ented sprint­ers, like Mark Ked­dell, who had just gone un­der the record be­fore that, and smashed it. It didn’t even cross my mind about that record - I just wanted to win the race, which was the Aussie na­tion­als. I was pretty young, so it was all new and ex­cit­ing and it just hap­pened to go re­ally well for me.’’

Aside from set­ting that record, Don­ald­son’s ca­reer took him to all three ma­jor world events - the Olympics, Com­mon­wealth Games and world cham­pi­onships - with ap­pear­ances in the fi­nals in the 100m and 200m at the Kuala Lumpur Com­mon­wealth Games in 1998 his high point.

He also set the best time by a New Zealan­der in New Zealand in the 100m, of 10.27sec, which was .16sec out­side the over­all record of 10.11sec, set by Gus Nke­tia in 1991. Don­ald­son’s best-ever 100m mark was 10.17sec, a tick bet­ter than Mil­lar’s cur­rent best of 10.18sec, set as he won the na­tional ti­tle over that dis­tance on Fri­day.

Since Don­ald­son stopped com­pet­ing, James Dol­phin had been the only other sprinter to come close to his 200m mark, and he said that Mil­lar was now ‘‘a step up from all of us’’.

Don­ald­son is now the Black Caps’ strength and con­di­tion­ing coach, a role he has had for the past five years, and he said that the en­vi­ron­ment Mil­lar com­petes in is a lot harder than the one there was when he was ac­tive.

‘‘Stan­dards are a lot higher, the world’s a lot quicker, he has to run these times which weren’t in my the day the qual­i­fy­ing times to get to the Olympics and the world cham­pi­onships. I was very lucky and he’s worked very hard to get to rep­re­sent New Zealand.’’

Mil­lar was in a re­flec­tive mood after his win on Sun­day at Por­ritt Sta­dium, hop­ing that his ef­forts might help in­spire fu­ture gen­er­a­tions.

‘‘Grow­ing up and com­ing through the ranks and be­ing told that New Zealand wasn’t a sprint­ing na­tion and stuff like that, I’ve al­ways thought, well, there’s got to be a first per­son to do stuff like that, and we have had that.

‘‘I just re­ally hope that if I don’t go fur­ther than this, that I’ve done enough to help some of the guys com­ing through see that this sort of thing is pos­si­ble.’’

PHOTO: GETTY IM­AGES

Joseph Mil­lar broke the na­tional 200m record in Hamil­ton on Sun­day.

Chris Don­ald­son, left, says Joseph Mil­lar is a ‘step up’ from past Kiwi sprint­ers, a group that in­cludes James Dol­phin, right.

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