Athletics New Zealand has named a team of four athletes for the World indoor Championships in Birmingham 1-4 March.
Tom Walsh will be defending the World Indoor shot put title he won in Portland, USA in 2016. Since then, the Christchurch 25 year old has grabbed the Rio 2016 Olympic bronze and won the World Championships title at London 2017.
Walsh has set the longest outdoor throw in the world in 2018 with a 21.87m at the Porritt Classic four days ago, but will be under pressure from Czech Tomas Stanek who threw 22.17m indoors four days earlier.
The formidable Americans, led by Olympic champion Ryan Crouser and runner-up Joe Kovacs will also pose a challenge to Walsh.
Eliza McCartney has been selected for the pole vault based on her excellent recent form that almost earned her a New Zealand record in Hastings off a very short run-up. The 4.70m she cleared gave a hint that she could go higher off a longer approach and could be in a position to contest the medals in Birmingham.
In Portland two years ago, at just 19 years old, the Auckland vaulter cleared a national indoor record of 4.70m to finish in fifth place. American Sandi Morris has the highest indoor vault in the world this year at 4.90m.
Two athletes have been selected in the men’s 3000m for the championships. Rio Olympic 1500m runner Hamish Carson and US-based Julian Oakley have had strong performances in the US in recent weeks to earn their spots in the team.
Oakley’s 7:44.34 in Boston took him to second and the New Zealand all-time indoor list, sandwiched between Zane Robertson (7:44.16) and Nick Willis (7:44.90).
Carson narrowly missed the mark required to make the Commonwealth Games team in the 1500m, and the consolation prize of a place in the World Indoor Championships team came as somewhat a surprise at the end of the qualifying period.
Walsh and McCartney are planning a quick trip back to New Zealand from Birmingham to defend their New Zealand Championship titles in Hamilton on 9-11 March before contesting the New Zealand International Series ahead of the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in April.
NZ team for World Indoor Championships 1 – 4 March 2018 in Birmingham, UK:
Tom Walsh 25 shot put South Canterbury AC
Eliza McCartney 21 pole vault North Harbour Bays
Julian Oakley 24 3000m Tauranga Ramblers
Hamish Carson 29 3000m Wellington Scottish