New Zealand shot putter Tom Walsh enjoyed a memorable 2016 campaign, kick-started by his emphatic success at the IAAF World Indoor Championships Portland 2016. Here the gifted Kiwi reflects on the significance of his victory in Oregon.
“It was pretty cool to stand on the top of the podium and hear the New Zealand national anthem at the 2016 World Indoor Championships in Portland. It still puts a smile on my face today. I’ve won other medals at major championships, but being number one that day was definitely the highlight.
“I believe in both Glasgow (2014 Commonwealth Games) and Beijing (2015 IAAF World Championships) I could have won gold, but it didn’t happen. Back then I was still reasonably new on the scene, but I think people were much more aware of who I was in Portland.
“It was very satisfying to win gold because we were there to win, not to throw far. Even if I had thrown 20.50m and won, I would have been over the moon. We went there to do a job and we delivered. It was really pleasing because I threw well and didn’t let up. I kept on going and going in each round. I also proved to myself that I could perform when it counted. Two or three of the top guys were missing that day, but I still had to go out and deliver.
“I put together a great series that day (20.38m, 21.60m, 21.40m, 21.64m, 21.49m, 21.78m), so much so that all the throws looked the same. It was like I was on repeat. I did feel nervous, obviously, but I believed that day I could win.
“I’ve only ever performed at two indoor meets – the other when winning bronze at the 2014 IAAF World Indoor Championships in Sopot – but I enjoy the atmosphere and the closeness of the fans at an indoor competition.
“Portland itself was an awesome town and I remember a good night out afterwards in an Irish bar and eating Voodoo doughnuts, which were amazing.
“To win my first world title was pretty cool and nobody can ever take that away from me. To have only one throw under 21.40m was amazing. I really nailed it that day and it acted as a great springboard for the 2016 outdoor season (when he went on to earn Olympic bronze and set an Oceanian record of 22.21m).”
Steve Landells for the IAAF