Millar ‘a step up from all of us’
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.’’
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.