ANOTHER WIN FOR WALSH
IN-FORM NEW ZEALANDER WRAPS UP SHOT PUT TITLE IN BUSINESS-LIKE FASHION
BREAKING event records and winning gold is becoming a bit of a habit for New Zealand’s Tom Walsh.
First the 26-year-old smashed the championship record to take the world indoor title in Birmingham and then, just over five weeks later, he improved the Games record in qualifying for the Commonwealth final, and gained gold the next day.
This time his record mark was 22.45m – the longest ever qualifying round throw at any championships – and his win was secured with a 21.41m put which gave him a 27cm winning margin over Chukwuebuka Enekwechi, who secured silver for Nigeria with the throw of his life, a PB of 21.14m.
Canada’s Tim Nedow claimed bronze with a 20.91m put, while Jamaica’s reigning champion O’Dayne Richards just missed the medals with 20.80m as the top six all surpassed 20 metres.
“I feel really good throwing 22.45m,” Walsh had said after his record mark. “There are probably 10 guys in the world who have thrown that ever. So I feel pretty good.”
It was almost as far as the 22.67m he threw in Auckland in March to improve his own Oceania record and move to equal sixth on the world all-time rankings.
However, wary of not getting complacent ahead of the final, he added: “Last time I did that (a record in qualifying) four years ago I didn’t win the final.”
Although he had hoped to throw further in the final, his pre-competition fear did not
become reality and he became the first winner from his nation in the event. “I’m getting used to doing those things (creating firsts),” he said.
“New Zealand hadn’t had a men’s world title until I came around, indoors or outdoors, so I’m pretty stoked to add another one to the tally.
“I’m only missing one, which is the Olympic Games, which is another two years away.”
After opening with 20.40m Walsh improved to 21.21m in the second round, while his winning mark came in the fourth round. He fouled his other three attempts.
“I’ve got much more room to improve, everywhere still,” he said. “For example, tonight I was just a little bit off in terms of the mental side of things.
“When I can address that, let loose and let it move freely,
I’ll be fine. A lot of room for improvement.”
Walsh has said previously he throws best when feeling laid back and having fun, and setting bets with his coach – Australian London 2012 Olympic shot putter Dale Stevenson – helps with that. After Walsh won his recent world indoor title with a PB, Stevenson was required to grow mutton chops-style sideburns as a result of losing the bet.
How did it work out this time around? “I lost that one, so we won’t talk about that!” Walsh laughed.
Enekwechi described his silver as “a dream come true”.
He added: “I feel blessed.
It’s not often a track meet goes to plan and this one did. I’m still in shock of the result.
“I’ve always wanted to make an international final and the first one I made, I medalled.”
Reflecting on the strength in depth of the competition, with Australia’s Damien Birkinhead and South Africa’s Orazio Cremona also going over 20 metres, two-time bronze medallist Nedow said:
“It was definitely the best Commonwealth Games shot put competition.
“There were six of us over 20m. Four years ago, there were only four of us.
“We’re all still young guys, so we’ll be back in four years’ time to do it again.”
“NEW ZEALAND HADN’T HAD A MEN’S WORLD
TITLE UNTIL I CAME AROUND, INDOORS OR OUTDOORS, SO I’M PRETTY STOKED TO ADD ANOTHER ONE TO THE TALLY”
Chukwuebuka Enekwechi: threw a PB to take the silver medal in his first international final
Tom Walsh: hot favourite delivered
Tom Walsh (centre) with Chukwuebuka Enekwechi (left) and Tim Nedow
Tim Nedow: Canadian threw 20.91m to take home the bronze in Australia