Walsh heads NZ medal hopes in London
Olympic medallists Tom Walsh, Eliza McCartney and Nick Willis spearhead New Zealand's medal hopes at the athletics world championships in London.
4 August 2017
A trio of Olympic bronze medallists harbour the best hope of a Kiwi medal at the athletics world championships in London starting Saturday (NZ time), with Tom Walsh at the head of the queue.
Shot putter Walsh, announced as captain of New Zealand's 12-strong team, is favoured to at least match his Rio bronze medal.
Snaring gold will be a different story with American Olympic champion Ryan Crouser having reigned supreme so far in 2017, consistently throwing distances well beyond his rivals.
Walsh has featured prominently on various podiums and his distances are creeping up close to his national record but probably won't be enough unless Crouser has an off-day.
Since finishing fourth two years ago at the 2015 Beijing world championships, Canterbury builder Walsh has won a world indoor championships gold, finished third at Rio, won the 2016 Diamond League shot put title and raised his New Zealand record to 22.21m, ranking him 16th all-time in the world.
Another timing his run to London is 1500m double Olympic medallist Nick Willis, who has never snared a world championships medal, having placed sixth in Beijing.
The Michigan-based 34-year-old has had an injury-marred preparation, leaving it to the recent Monaco Diamond League meeting to qualify in 3min 34.74sec.
As usual, the challenge will be to negotiate unpredictable heats and semi-finals before contesting a final which is often tactically-fought, playing into the hands of the Kiwi veteran.
Injury has also been a factor for pole vaulter Eliza McCartney, who has hit peaks and troughs since her Rio bronze a year ago.
She extended her Oceania record to 4.82m in Auckland in February but plans in Europe were spoiled by a problematic Achilles tendon.
The 20-year-old insists she is fit and firing for what will be the first event involving a Kiwi, in qualifying on Saturday morning (NZT).
Immediately after that, Zane Robertson lines up in the 10,000m, seeking to better his 12th placing at Rio when he smashed the former national record by eight seconds.
It will be one of the Kenyan-based runner's last tilt at the distance before focusing on marathons.
New Zealand team:
Men - Joseph Millar (200m), Nick Willis (1500m), Zane Robertson (10,000m), Quentin Rew (50km race walk), Tom Walsh (shot put), Jacko Gill (shot put), Marshall Hall (discus), Ben Langton Burnell (javelin).
Women: Angie Petty (800m), Camille Buscomb (5000m, 10,000m), Eliza McCartney (pole vault), Julia Ratcliffe (hammer).
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