A ‘triple triple’ sprint victory by Monique Williams and more solid shot putting by Valerie Vili were the key highlights of the New Zealand National Championships held in Wellington, 27-29 March.
For the third consecutive year, Williams won the Senior women’s 100-200-400 triple. The title defence began with a scare in the 100m on Friday afternoon where a poor start saw Williams have to make up distance on rival Anna Smythe. Williams finally edged ahead with 30m to go to win in 11.64, only 0.10secs separating them in the finish. From there, it was easy with Williams winning by significant margins in her favourite events, the 200m in 23.15 and the 400m in 54.08.
Vili, the Beijing Olympic Champion and reigning World champion, was again in impressive form recording 19.36m to take the Shot put title. This capped an excellent series of competitions in March for Vili with two results in excess of 20m and two between 19 and 20 metres. Husband Bertrand threw well in the Men’s discus with 63.66m, and several other throws in excess of 60m.
Beatrice Faumuina was also out over 60m in the Women’s discus, easily eclipsing her competitors. Stuart Farquhar continued his solid form of late, retaining his title for another year with an effort of 78.65m in the Javelin Throw.
Drama in the men’s 100m - Sprints
Elsewhere in the sprints, it was the men’s 100m final which produced the drama of the meet. Wily campaigner Chris Donaldson false started, with some suggesting it was done on purpose to upset young David Ambler (who two weeks ago ran a NZ junior record at 10.35, also a NZ season leading mark). It worked as Ambler broke at the second attempt which resulted in disqualification. The crowd sighed in disappointment. Ambler then approached the starter and asked to compete under protest. At the third attempt, Ambler recognised the need for a more conservative start, but raced quickly into the lead and still won by 0.15sec. His protest against disqualification was subsequently rejected by the Jury of Appeal and the title went to Carl van der Speck who clocked 10.53.
Beijing Olympian James Dolphin was relieved of the 200m title he has held for several seasons. A fast starting Carl van der Speck led off the bend, however Dolphin surged into the lead, only to find a faster finishing Jeffery Thumath pip him at the finish to record 21.09.
The men’s 400m races also produced some highly exciting finishes. In the M16 grade Frazer Wickes and Alex Jordan blazed around the track to record 47.36 and 48.19 respectively. In the 19 grade Matthew Robinson repelled the challenge of Scott Burch 47.78 to 48.19. Andrew Moore and Cory Innes battled head-to-head in the Senior Men’s race, with Moore (in his first season concentrating on the one lap) winning in 47.04s.
Double for Hamblin - Middle distances
Nikki Hamblin led from gun to tape in both the 800m and 1500m events recording solid times of 2:06.34 and 4:23.48. Unfortunately she was not eligible for the titles which were then won by Erin Montgomery (800m) and Fiona Crombie (1500m).
Matt Hammond of Australia also won a visitors gold medal in leading all the way in the Senior Men’s 800m. Tim Hawkes retained the NZL title he won last year, but was challenged strongly by Gareth Hyett all the way up the home straight. Hyett retained his 1500m title, sprinting into the lead with 200m to go. He had to contend with a challenge from Richard Olsen, but Hyett closed the gap Olsen was trying to sneak through on the inside.
The absence of defending champion Andrea Miller with a knee injury (that has kept her out of competition all season) allowed former junior champion Veronica Torr to win her first Senior title in the 100m Hurdles (13.98). James Mortimer made sure he retained the title in the Senior Men’s event. Decathlete Brent Newdick showed good form in a number of events over the weekend including the hurdles.
British visitor Robbie Grabarz outclassed his New Zealand opposition in the High Jump recording 2.20m. This was recorded despite the blustery conditions requiring volunteers to hold the bar as the athletes approached on their run-ups.
A foreign visitor also won the men’s Long Jump with Fredick Erin of France recording 7.52m to Brent Newdick’s 7.36m.
Murray Taylor for the IAAF