Athletics New Zealand has announced the 2018 Athletics New Zealand International Series. The series of five events across four cities will showcase New Zealand’s best athletes, taking on top international competition ahead of the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.
Headlined by World Champion Tom Walsh and Olympic bronze medallist Eliza McCartney, the innovative, spectator friendly events that make up the series promise to deliver action and excitement to spectators. Several events will take place in CBD locations, bringing the sport to the people, allowing spectators to get right up close to the action. Regional New Zealand is well represented, with provincial cities Whanganui and Timaru both hosting events within the series.
The series begins with a new event, to be held in Tom Walsh’s home town of Timaru. The Timaru Super Shot, (14 March) will see Kiwi’s Walsh and Jacko Gill taking on some of the best throwers in the world within the natural amphitheatre of the Caroline Bay Soundshell on Timaru’s waterfront. Thousands of South Canterbury fans are expected to attend, watching their hometown hero in action against elite international competitors.
The popular Big Shot event in Christchurch will once again feature on the calendar, with the elite throwers heading to the Garden City to put on a show for loyal Canterbury athletics fans. This competition, hosted by Christchurch’s International Track Meet Trust saw New Zealand records tumble in 2017.
The SKYCITY Vertical Pursuit (18 March) will see the highly successful Vertical Pursuit “street” pole vault event, held at Britomart this February, move to the Federal Street entertainment precinct at SKYCITY in Auckland’s CBD. Once again kiwi star Eliza McCartney will take to the runway, alongside a great cast of New Zealand and international athletes. New event sponsors SKYCITY will create the perfect environment, with elite sport taking place on their “home turf” for the first time. For fans and athletes alike this free event promises to be a highlight of the international athletics calendar.
The Whanganui International Track Meet (Whanganui, 21 March) will see elite athletes compete at the iconic Cooks Gardens venue in Whanganui. New Zealand’s “home of the mile”, scene of Sir Peter Snell’s Mile world record run in 1962, this venue is loved by athletes. The Sir Peter Snell International Mile will be the feature event, with top milers from around the country as well as international runners, competing for a rich prize purse and the chance to earn a coveted Sub Four Cap, awarded to athletes that break the four minute mile barrier at Cooks Gardens.
Rounding out the series is the Sir Graeme Douglas International (West Auckland, 25 March). Formerly the Auckland Track Challenge this event has been renamed for Auckland businessman, philanthropist and great supporter of athletics Sir Graeme Douglas, who passed away last year. Returning to its original home of Douglas Track & Field, West Auckland and supported by Douglas Pharmaceuticals, this event will feature many of New Zealand’s Commonwealth Games bound athletes and national representatives from other Commonwealth countries.
Fans will be invited onto the infield, watching the action from special spectator zones only metres from the athletes, creating a cauldron atmosphere that will spur the athletes on and allow fans the chance to watch the power, grace and speed of world class athletics up close and personal.
With New Zealand athletes expected to excel in a range of disciplines on the Gold Coast next April, these competitions offer a great chance for athletes to compete in front of a hometown crowd and also provide a great test of form ahead of the Games.
Athletics New Zealand High Performance Director Scott Goodman sees the benefits of having meets in front of Kiwi fans ahead of the Commonwealth Games.
“The Athletics New Zealand International Series is an important part of the preparation for our team ahead of the Commonwealth Games,” said Goodman.
We expect the athletes will be firing and they will be excited to compete against the best in front of New Zealand fans,” added Goodman.
New Zealand world shot put champion, Tom Walsh is excited about the home series.
“Most of the season we’re living out of hotel rooms competing in Europe and North America so having the chance to show what we can do in front of Kiwis is always a highlight,” said Walsh.
“I’m particularly excited to host some of the world’s best throwers in my hometown of Timaru. Hopefully the locals will turn out in big numbers to watch us go at it!” added Walsh.
The Athletics New Zealand International Series begins on 14 March and many events are free for spectators to attend.
More details are available at www.athletics.org.nz/international
Series Dates & Venues:
- 14 March Timaru Super Shot – Caroline Bay, Timaru
- 16 March The Big Shot – Kilmore St, Christchurch CBD
- 18 March SKYCITY Vertical Pursuit (Pole Vault) – Federal St, Auckland CBD
- 21 March Whanganui International Track Meeting – Cooks Gardens, Whanganui
- 25 March Sir Graeme Douglas International – Douglas Track & Field, West Auckland