Healthy Neal back in win­ning form


Tony Aiken­head stated the ob­vi­ous not long af­ter Izzy Neal soared past the fin­ish line at Satur­day’s Harold Nel­son Clas­sic.

‘‘She’s back,’’ Aiken­head said of his oft-in­jured star run­ner.

Neal’s time of 57.55 sec­onds in win­ning the women’s 400m was the sec­ond fastest reg­is­tered by a women’s un­der-18 run­ner this sea­son, con­firm­ing that she is healthy again af­ter in­juries that have kept her out of much of the last two sea­sons.

The time was only a few hun­dredths of a sec­ond off what she ran to fin­ish sec­ond at last year’s New Zealand sec­ondary schools ath­letics cham­pi­onships, and the con­di­tions weren’t ex­actly ideal.

‘‘The winds were swirling around,’’ Neal said. ‘‘It was tough.’’

She was helped by her near­est com­peti­tor, Sa­man­tha Hardie, who chal­lenged her around the final bend and fin­ished in a near per­sonal best 58.51sec.

Hardie and Neal were set to be 4x400m re­lay team-mates at the New Zealand ath­letics cham­pi­onships in March un­til Neal pulled out with a lower leg in­jury.

She re­cov­ered but twisted her an­kle in her sea­son buildup and then sat out the Ath­letics Nel­son Twi­light Series meet on Novem­ber 1 with a groin in­jury. ‘‘She’s re­silient,’’ Aiken­head said. ‘‘She came back tonight and hit the 300m mark right on tar­get and looked very strong.’’

Neal led a field of star-stud­ded ath­letes at the meet.

New Zealand record holder Lucy Sheat fended off Amanda Fi­tise­manu to win the 100m in 12.22sec and the 200m in 24.48sec.

In a high-pow­ered men’s 100m, Alex Daw­son edged Bai­ley Cot­ton and Os­car Field in 11.40sec. Cot­ton took out the 200m in 23.18sec.

Kalani Sheri­dan swept into the lead of the 3000m and fought those same swirling winds to record 8min 54sec.

Fletcher Pick­worth held off fast­clos­ing team-mates Nick Matthews and An­gus We­myss for sec­ond in a per­sonal best 9min 10.45sec.

New Zealand ju­nior women’s moun­tain run­ning cham­pion So­phie Smith won the women’s 3000m in 11min 5.93sec.

Cam­ryn Smart, third with per­sonal bests in both the 100m and 200m, won the women’s long jump with 4.82m.

Adam Stack won the M18 high jump (1.75m) and shot put (12.04m). Shan­nen Smith won the women’s triple jump with 10.12m, and Bryn Stevens the men’s with 10.18m.

Marl­bor­ough’s David Hansen won the men’s dis­cus with 33.81m and men’s shot put with 11.66m and was a close sec­ond in the 400m to Ja­cob Brooks, who fin­ished in 55.44sec.

Emily Bryan won the javelin with 30.25m. Her brother, Ja­cob, won the 800m in 2min 8.98sec. Lucy Har­man won the women’s 800m in 2min30.14sec.

The meet took on a colour­ful at­mos­phere with mu­sic blar­ing at ei­ther side of the home­stretch and an am­a­teur film crew us­ing a drone to video the event.

Full re­sults can be found ath­letics.nel­ at


Cam­ryn Smart shows her win­ning form in the women’s long jump.

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