The new year certainly has plenty to look forward to. Here Athletics NZ brings you ten things to embrace in 2020.
World Half Marathon Championships
In recent times, Athletics NZ has extended opportunities for athletes to compete at major global endurance events. Last year, 16 New Zealanders competed at the World Cross Country Championships in Copenhagen, gaining valuable experience of competing against the very best. This year Athletics NZ have set achievable standards to earn selection for the World Half Marathon Championships which take place in Gdynia, Poland on March 29. To enter the men’s race as an individual, Athletics NZ require a 1:06 clocking or 1:07 for the team competition. On the women’s side the standards are 1:18 (individual) and 1:19 (team). Among those already confirmed in the team are Oska Inkster-Baynes, a 1:05:01 half marathoner and Lydia O’Donnell (1:14:40).
Game of Throws
New Zealand has a long and proud tradition of throwing excellence and this has been further cemented with the completion of stage one of the Home of Throws, in South Auckland’s Bruce Pulman Park. The Home of Throws will offer the opportunity for anyone who wants a crack at throwing the discus, hammer or shot put (with the hope of providing javelin opportunities at some stage). The facility will also offer access to a track and gym for specific and cross training and also support programmes like #ThrowLikeAGirl. Stage 2 of the programme will include an indoor/outdoor all weather training facility for every para and able-bodied thrower of all standards.
For more info contact: Tim Driesen firstname.lastname@example.org
Outside of the USA and Great Britain, no nation boasts as many mile world record-holders as New Zealand. Olympic 1500m champions Jack Lovelock, Sir Peter Snell and Sir John Walker have all held the mark at different periods in history; so the re-introduction of a national mile championship after a 50-year gap is likely to prove a big hit. It is also appropriate that the championship races (senior men and women and junior men and women) will take place at Cooks Gardens in Whanganui, as part of the Sir Peter Snell International track meet on March 14. The venue has witnessed no less than 65 sub-four-minute miles over the years including, most famously, Sir Peter’s stunning 3:54.4 world record in 1962.
For the second successive year, the impressive new Nga Puna Wai facility will host the Jennian Homes Track & Field Championships. The cold and wet weather which swept through the Garden City at last year’s event did not dampen performances. We witnessed many memorable moments led by Para shot putter Lisa Adams, who bettered the world F37 world record, Zoe Hobbs’ sprint double, and Tom Walsh’s tenth national shot title. Don’t miss the cream of domestic talent battle it out once more in the flagship event of the New Zealand domestic season.
New Zealand’s Diamond League
The Sir Graeme Douglas International Track Challenge has long been the country’s most high profile one-day meet, drawing comparisons to a World Athletics Diamond League meet due to its slick, high-paced style. Twelve months ago the event witnessed the likes of Tom Walsh, Portia Bing and Eddie Osei-Nketia compete as well as a smattering of overseas stars. This year’s event in Auckland promises to be no different, as the event offers the ideal opportunity for fans to witness firsthand New Zealand’s biggest sporting stars ahead of Tokyo 2020.
Valerie is back!
The long-awaited return of shot put queen Dame Valerie Adams will be keenly anticipated. After giving birth to her second child, Kepaleli in March 2019, the double Olympic shot put champion will be back in the competitive fold with the aim of winning a fourth successive Olympic medal in Tokyo. Having last competed in July 2018, she has stayed connected to the sport being coach to sister and World Para Athletics shot put champion Lisa Adams and also as the Deputy Chair of the World Athletics Athletes’ Commission. The road to Tokyo for the eight-time world champion (four outdoor and four indoor) and a winner of five Commonwealth medals will make for fascinating viewing.
Since winning Olympic bronze at the age of 19, New Zealand pole vault ace Eliza McCartney has suffered a whole raft of injuries which has been frustrating. A revealing and honest recent Instagram post explained how a genetic disorder that causes autoimmune inflammation, particularly affecting the tendons, could have been the cause of reoccurring tendinitis - even leading to the Achilles deterioration. Finally identifying the problem and taking medication for the condition is a huge positive step in the right direction for the Aucklander. As her Oceania record vault of 4.94m shows, a height which ranks her fourth all-time, she is more than capable of competing with the best in the world. Here’s to a more successful 2020 for Eliza.
The recently completed New National Stadium in Tokyo will host the track and field action (Jul 31-Aug 9) and centerpiece of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. The last time the Games were held in the Japanese capital 56 years ago, the recently deceased Sir Peter Snell completed the 800m and 1500m double. His fellow New Zealand runner John Davies won bronze in the latter event and Marise Chamberlain secured New Zealand’s first and so far only female Olympic track medal, with bronze in the 800m. Hopes will be high of another successful Kiwi performance in the 2020 edition, led by shot putter Tom Walsh, the 2016 Olympic bronze medallist, and supported by Dame Valerie Adams who is gunning for a fourth successive Olympic shot put medal. Eliza McCartney, the 2016 Olympic pole vault bronze medallist, will be hoping to once again mount the dais, while the evergreen Nick Willis will be seeking a third Olympic medal in the men’s 1500m.
Four years ago the New Zealand athletics team emerged as a significant force at the 2016 Rio Paralympics, snaring no less than nine medals. Led by the now retired Bladerunner Liam Malone, who won two sprint golds and a silver medal, and supported by medallists Anna Grimaldi, Holly Robinson, Rory McSweeney, William Stedman and Jess Gillan, the Kiwis had a ball in Rio and their strong squad will be expected to make a similar impact in the Tokyo Games (Aug 25-Sept 6). Liam is gone but Anna and Holly, who both won silver medals at the 2019 World Para Athletics Championships in Dubai, will once again be a major podium threat. Emerging Waikato sprinter Danielle Aitchison, a T36 World silver medallist, is another to watch as is Christchurch’s William, who powered to T36 400m bronze in Dubai. Yet the star of the team could be Lisa Adams, younger sister to double Olympic champion, Dame Valerie, who after less than two years in the sport destroyed the opposition in November’s World Para Athletics Championships to strike gold with a world record breaking display.
Mark the Diary
The World Athletics Indoor Championships will be held in Nanjing, China, from 13th - 15th March. The New Zealand Marathon Championships return to Rotorua, as part of the iconic Rotorua Marathon lap of lake Rotorua. The 2020 World Masters Athletics Championships will be held in Toronto, Canada, from 20th July - 1st August. Check out the full events calendar here and the latest event updates on the Athletics New Zealand Facebook page.