AN­OTHER WIN FOR WALSH

IN-FORM NEW ZEALAN­DER WRAPS UP SHOT PUT TI­TLE IN BUSI­NESS-LIKE FASH­ION

Athletics Weekly - - COM­MON­WEALTH GAMES -

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”

TOM WALSH

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

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