Three of the four Kiwi athletics medallists at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games will be lining up at the IAAF World Championships starting on Saturday morning (NZ time) in London.
Eliza McCartney was one of the stand-out Kiwi athletes at the 2016 Rio Olympics, placing third in the women’s pole vault and collecting a bronze medal.
A hiccup with a tender achilles tendon six weeks out from the 2017 London World Championships has meant a modified approach for the 20 year old Devonport athlete.
Coach Jeremy McColl and his young charge have reduced training intensity and concentrated on quality rather than quantity to manage the potential injury. They're satisfied that McCartney will get to the qualifying round in good shape and ready to take on the top female vaulters in the world.
Above: Tom Walsh competes in Rio
Rio shot put bronze medallist Tom Walsh has had a strong series of results leading up to his second world championships event.
Since finishing fourth two years ago at the 2015 Beijing World Championships, the Canterbury builder has won gold at the World Indoor championships in March 2016, finished third in Rio, won the 2016 Diamond League shot put and raised his New Zealand record to 22.21, ranking him 16th all-time in the world.
Walsh’s last two competitions have both yielded tosses of over 22 metres and he is rounding into some excellent form ahead of the world championships.
Competing in the same event is Jacko Gill, eighth in Beijing two years ago and ninth in the Olympic final in 2016. The 22 year old Aucklander improved his best to 21.01m in January this year and will be aiming for another top eight finish.
Nick Willis was another medallist at the Rio Olympics last year, in the blue riband 1500m for men.
The owner of two Olympic medals, 1500m silver at 2008 Beijing Olympics and bronze at the 2016 Rio Olympics, has never medalled an IAAF World Championships and would dearly love to get on the podium in London.
The 34 year old from Lower Hutt (now domiciled in Michigan) has had a somewhat interrupted preparation to the championships with injury affecting his training. Shin splints in the early part of the season meant that he left it until the last possible race to qualify, running 3:34.74 at the Monaco Diamond League meeting in late July.
As is often the case at major championships, the challenge will be to make it to the final, negotiating the heats and semi-finals which can feature inconsistent pace and fast finishes. If Willis can get to the final there is every chance that he could improve on his best performance, a sixth in Beijing.
Zane Robertson will also take to the track. The 10,000m runner’s indicated he is in a better position than at the same time last year when he went on to place a highly creditable 12th at Rio, setting a New Zealand record of 27:33.67, slicing eight seconds off Dick Quax’s previous record.