The New Zealand Herald

Walsh’s gold creates NZ

Winning throw wasn’t Kiwi shot put star’s best effort but it still deserves high praise


TLiam Napier

on the Gold Coast hat Tom Walsh’s shot put gold was a formality should not cloud the Kiwi’s glory. This wasn’t vintage Walsh — far from it. And given his high standards he is unlikely to be entirely satisfied with a best throw of 21.41m which was just 27cm ahead of Nigeria’s Chukwuebuk­a Enekwechi.

Canada’s Tim Nedow claimed bronze with 20.91m.

Walsh’s reaction after his final throw did not reflect jubilation.

But creating New Zealand athletics history, as the first Kiwi male to claim gold in the Commonweal­th Games shot put, is no mean achievemen­t.

Unexpected medals often draw more attention for their wow factor. Walsh’s global dominance long expelled the element of surprise but his first gold medal at the Carrara Stadium deserves lauding in the same vein as any to raise eyebrows.

One day before, Walsh gave a statement of intent in qualifying to extend the Games record by 84cm with a throw of 22.45m — 1.79m further than his closest challenger.

Large pockets of Kiwi fans rose as he stepped up to make his mark, but last night he started nervously, perhaps due to the weight of expectatio­n, and couldn’t get near Sunday’s best throw or his personal best of 22.67m.

His six throws (20.40m, 21.21m, foul, 21.41m, foul, foul) all carried elements of frustratio­n as he struggled to settle and gain rhythm.

Still, after silver in Glasgow four years ago, Walsh’s upgrade adds to his crowded mantelpiec­e that already features world outdoor and indoor titles.

His status remains such that he will SBT be favoured to continue his collection and claim Olympic glory, the holy grail, in Tokyo, 2020.

Through it all, the best part is he remains the humble Timaru builder.

New Zealand has produced three women’s Commonweal­th Games shot put champions in Yvette Corlett (nee Williams), Valerie Young (nee Sloper) and Dame Valerie Adams, who is chasing an unpreceden­ted fourth Games gold on Friday.

But before Walsh, no Kiwi male had achieved this feat. Les Mills at Kingston in 1966; Courtney Ireland at Victoria in 1994 and Walsh in Glasgow were all runners-up.

This effort now anoints Walsh king pin of the men’s pack. Measuring his success on a historic, world scale is

more complicate­d. Walsh threw his PB last month and no one has gone further since May, 1990, when recidivist American drug cheat Randy Barnes registered 23.12m.

Walsh remains sixth-equal on the all-time list, level with American Kevin Toth, who delivered his put in 2003, only to be banned the following year for a positive drugs test.

The other four completed their throws between 1975 and 1988.

Earlier yesterday, a world record mark wasn’t enough for Holly Robinson to clinch gold in the women’s F45 javelin.

The Hokitika 23-year-old threw a world record 43.32m, only for Welsh rival Hollie Arnold to trump it in her last attempt with 44.43m.

“It was a rollercoas­ter because I opened with a really big throw, breaking the current world record at the time,” Robinson said.

“It was amazing out there I’ve got quite a bit of friends and family in the crowd and it was cool for them to be here and witness that.

“It’s been her and I for a while now; her always getting the gold and I getting the silver but it’s a great rivalry. She came up to me after the competitio­n and said I really pushed her and it took another world record to beat me.”

“I remember as a wee girl I always wanted to be here competing for my country. I did hope for that gold medal but at the end of the day a silver is absolutely amazing.”

 ?? Picture / Greg Bowker ?? Tom Walsh won a gold medal in the shot put with a throw of 21.41m.
Picture / Greg Bowker Tom Walsh won a gold medal in the shot put with a throw of 21.41m.
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