22 Apr 2016

Exciting mix of ten in first Athletics Olympic selection

Exciting mix of ten in first Athletics Olympic selection

Author: Comms Admin  /  Categories: News  / 

Ten New Zealand athletes have been named in the initial selection for the Athletics team for the Rio Olympic Games, announced today at the AUT Millennium track by the New Zealand Olympic Committee.

The team includes a strong mix of experience and young talent with three athletes, shot putter Valerie Adams, 1500m specialist Nick Willis and javelin thrower Stuart Farquhar all preparing for their fourth Games campaign, while six of the athletes will be attending their first Olympic Games.

Willis won silver in Beijing 2008 and was appointed flag bearer for London 2012 and, at 32, he shows no signs of slowing down. Last year he set a New Zealand record for 1500m and finished sixth in the event at the World Championships. Already in 2016 Willis has set a new New Zealand indoor mile record and claimed bronze in the 1500m at the World Indoor Championships in Portland, USA.

Adams' gold medal winning form from her previous two Olympic Games campaigns will provide plenty of encouragement for her heading to Rio, as well as providing inspiration for the wider New Zealand team. Adam's was appointed flag bearer at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 2014.

Newly crowned world indoor shot put champion Tom Wash has forced himself into medal contention for Rio, with a commanding victory in Portland last month. Over the past 12 months, Walsh has beaten all the potential medallists at least once and has been one of the most consistent athletes in his field, arming him with confidence ahead of his first Olympic Games.

The youngest athlete named in the team today is pole vaulter Eliza McCartney who, at 19, has gone from strength to strength in recent years. McCartney set a world junior record late in 2015 and with more improvements since then, has shot up the world rankings. She now sits fifth in the world, the same place she occupied at the indoor championships earlier this year.

Six of the ten athletes announced have won Commonwealth medals and three have World University medals to their name.

New Zealand Olympic Committee CEO Kereyn Smith was on hand to congratulate the athletes this morning at the track.

“Athletics is regarded as one of the core Olympic sports and for these ten track and field athletes named into the New Zealand Team today, the opportunity to stamp their mark in Rio is hugely exciting,” she said.

“New Zealand has a rich history of Olympic achievement in athletics dating right back to Harry Kerr’s race walk bronze in 1908. This is a strong team and they have all worked hard to earn their selection. We look forward to supporting them as they etch their name in the history books.”

Also thrilled with the calibre of the Team named today was Athletics New Zealand Chief Executive Linda Hammersley.

“We’re pleased to congratulate our athletes on selection for the Rio Olympic Games in August. We’re proud of their achievements, which are recognition of their commitment to their programmes and drive for excellence,” she said.

“Our team is an exciting mix of multi-medal winning Olympic and World Champions and new emerging talent selected for their first Games, across a broad spread of event disciplines from shotput to 10,000m.”

“Their selection is testament to their hard work and dedication but also the commitment and skill of our coaches, and the Athletics New Zealand High Performance Department that knits the athletes, coaches, support services and campaign plans together.”

“Since the London Olympics in 2012 we have seen tremendous growth in the depth and breadth of our new athletic talent which we look to continue through to Tokyo and 2024.”

“I would also acknowledge the support of High Performance Sport New Zealand that has allowed our athletes to achieve their goal of Olympic selection. We wish them all the very best in Rio!” Hamersley added.
High Performance Sport New Zealand Chief Executive Alex Baumann also extended his congratulations to the athletes and noted the excellent depth in the team named.

“We believe this is one of our most talented athletics squads to attend an Olympic Games. I am delighted to see our investment and performance support reflected in the increased number of athletes capable of podium and top 8 finishes. I would like to congratulate all the athletes selected today and wish them every success in their preparations for Rio,” he said.
There is still potential for the team to be expanded with more than ten athletes having realistic chances of reaching nomination standards. Most of these athletes are either based overseas or will travel to the USA or Europe for further competition in coming months.

A further selection announcement will take place in July.

Athletics has a very rich Olympic history with the sport being the major attraction at every modern summer Olympic Games since 1896.

New Zealand has won ten gold and a total of 21 medals in athletics at the Olympic Games since race walker Harry Kerr came home with bronze from the 1908 London Olympic Games.

In more recent times, it is hard to forget Peter Snell’s three Olympic golds in the 800m and 1500m at the 1960 Rome and 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games.

  Name   Event   Club
 Valerie Adams   Shot Put  Pakuranga Athletic Club 
 Stuart Farquhar  Javelin   Hamilton City Hawks
 Jacko Gill  Shot Put  Takapuna Athletic Club
 Nikki Hamblin  1500m   Cambridge Athletic Club
 Eliza McCartney  Pole Vault  North Harbour Bays
 Angie Petty  800m   University of Canterbury
 Quentin Rew  50km Walk  Wellington Harrier Athletic
 Zane Robertson  10,000m  Hamilton City Hawks
 Tom Walsh  Shot Put  South Canterbury Athletic Club
 Nick Willis  1500m   Lower Hutt Athletic Club

Biographies for the selected athletes can be found here

Athletics and the Olympic Games - Medal History

10 gold, 2 silver, 9 bronze

 1936 Berlin  Jack Lovelock  1500m
 1952 Helsinki  Yvette Williams  Long Jump
 1956 Melbourne  Norm Read  50km Race Walk
 1960 Rome  Peter Snell  800m
 1960 Rome  Murray Halberg  5000m
 1964 Tokyo  Peter Snell  800m
 1964 Tokyo  Peter Snell  1500m
 1976 Montreal  John Walker  1500m
 2008 Beijing  Valerie Adams  Shot Put
 2012 London  Valerie Adams  Shot Put
 1976 Montreal  Dick Quax  5000m
 2008 Beijing  Nick Willis  1500m
 1908 London  Harry Kerr  3500m Race Walk
 1924 Paris  Arthur Porritt   100m
 1952 Helsinki  John Holland  400m hurdles
 1960 Rome  Barry Magee  Marathon
 1964 Tokyo  John Davies  1500m
 1964 Tokyo  Marise Chamberlain  800m
 1968 Mexico  Mike Ryan  Marathon
 1972 Munich  Rod Dixon  1500m
 1992 Barcelona  Lorraine Moller  Marathon



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