Tom Walsh and Jacko Gill gave New Zealand one of its great days in track and field when they dominated the Commonwealth Games shot put final.
Walsh eventually took the gold with a best throw of 22.26m, but he had to be good because Gill’s final effort was a personal best 21.90m that sealed the silver medal in style.
Both shot putters were in excellent form.
Walsh put together a really solid sequence of 21.98m, 21.46m, 21.52m, 21.84m, 21.05m, 22.26m.
Gill’s throws were 20.48m, 20.88m, 20.41m, 21.20m, 21.29m, 21.90m. He improved with virtually every throw, even though Walsh’s whopper first effort all but sealed the gold medal.
The two New Zealanders were well clear of the field. The bronze medal went to Jamaican O’Dayne Richards, with 21.91m. Walsh better than that five times and Gill three times.
There were in effect two shot put competitions – the New Zealanders disputing the gold, and the rest of the field targeting bronze.
For Walsh, it is yet another addition to an already bulging CV. He won the Commonwealth Games gold in 2018, and the silver in 2014, when he was an emerging 22-year-old.
Gill, now 27, was a precocious talent, but his career stalled, partly through injury. However, he has come back strongly, including beating Walsh on occasion recently, and is now a genuinely world-class competitor.
Walsh, who has seemed in a very relaxed frame of mind all week, was very pleased with his sequence.
“Obviously I got that one out early over 22 metres and hoped that put me out of reach, but four or five of my throws were good ones,” he said. “I’ve been nailing some big throws in training and it was really good for me to bring it out tonight.
“Jacko threw great. He’s getting closer and closer to me. It’s awesome for him, and shot putting and New Zealand athletics and sets up the next domestic season well.”
Gill was pleased to take the silver and to achieve a personal best, even if he was disappointed not to quite crack the 22-metre barrier.
“I’m sure it’s coming. That’ what we train for. You have to be throwing 22 metres to think about winning these meets.”
Gill has had quite a turnaround in his life in recent years and seems a much more content and calm person these days.
“I had some heart issues and had to miss the last Comm Games, and then I had some mental health issues when I was coming back after a long break. But I’ve worked through that and have mum and dad coaching me, which is great. Mum’s over here as my coach.”
He said he gained huge confidence from throwing well in a big meet. “I’ve been focusing on my technique and my body is feeling much better. I’m recovering better because I’m not loading up with big weights any more. Overall I’m very haappy the way things are going.”Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games