One of New Zealand’s largest athletic teams to ever leave the country will compete at the Oceania Area Championships in Townsville over four days from Tuesday 25 June.
More than 700 athletes, 100 team officials and 120 technical officials from 22 Oceania Federations will descend on to the Townsville Sports Reserve. A total of 98 athletes will represent New Zealand, accompanied by a management team of 14, led by Athletics New Zealand High Performance Director Scott Goodman.
The Championship will be a significant event for many athletes still aiming to qualify for the 2019 Doha IAAF World Championships in Dubai and the 2019 World Para Athletics Championships in Doha later this year. Also, with the change in the qualifying system for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, the Oceania Area’s top athletes will be all out for victory and to gain the important ranking points.
Maddison-Lee Wesche (shot put), Portia Bing (400m hurdles) and Jacko Gill (shot put) have already met the entry standard for the 2019 Doha IAAF World Championships and been selected in the team for Doha. Edward Osei-Nketia (100m), Brad Mathas (800m), Zoe Hobbs (100m and 200m), Hamish Kerr (high jump) and Olivia McTaggart (pole vault), have been conditionally selected in the team but will have to come out on top in their respective events in Townsville to secure their places in the team, with Kerr and McTaggart also requiring technical delegate approval.
Interest in the sprints will centre on the clash between Joseph Millar and the up and coming Osei-Nketia, who has confirmed his allegiance to New Zealand. They are both down for the 100m and 200m. Hamish Gill will join Millar and Osei-Nketia in the 100m. Zoe Hobbs, who won the Australian championship 200m and was second in the 100m in April, will compete alongside fellow Kiwis Olivia Eaton, Georgia Hulls and Brooke Somerfield.
Katherine Camp, Angie Petty and Katrina Anderson will compete in the 800m. Rebekah Greene will run in the 1500m and 5000m. Oli Chignell and Matthew Baxter will line up in the 5000m. Sam Tanner who broke the New Zealand U19 & U20 1500m records over the weekend is down to race the 1500m along with Simon Rogers. Michael Cochrane who competed at the 2015 IAAF World Championships and was second in the Australian championships in April will race the 400m hurdles.
James Steyn and Nick Southgate will continue their rivalry in the men’s pole vault, while McTaggart is expected to be joined in the senior women’s competition by Imogen Ayris and Eliza McCartney. Kayla Goodwin, who won six gold medals in the last New Zealand season including the senior long and triple jumps, will be kept busy competing in the under 20 heptathlon, long and triple jumps and the 100m hurdles. National high jump champion Josephine Reeves is down for the senior and under 20 high jump, and will be joined by Keeley O’Hagan and Emma Sutherland in the senior event.
Lisa Adams will represent New Zealand in the Para Athletics competing in the F37 shot put and discus throw, while Commonwealth Games silver medallist Holly Robinson competes in the F46 javelin. Also in the team are Amy Dunn (F41 shot put), Jess Gillan (F34 seated shot put), Joshua Lush (T20 400m and long jump), Libby Leikis (T37 100m, 200m & 400m) and Ben Tuimaseve (F37 shot put). Adams, Robinson, Dunn, Gillan, Leikis and Tuimaseve were named in the initial team announcement for the 2019 World Para Athletics Championships.
The event will be live streamed. More information will be available on the Oceania Athletics Facebook page shortly.