Above: Tom Walsh collects his gold medal after his shot put win at the world championships. Photo by Matthias Hangst / Getty Images.
Although feeling very sore but with a great feeling Tom Walsh took his place as number one on the victory dais to receive his much deserved gold medal.
“I’ve been on the podium a few times now, once with my national anthem, but this one at the outdoors it’s pretty special. I’m not usually a teary guy but I felt like I got a bit of watery eyes there at a little part of it," said Walsh.
“And to see some Kiwis in the crowd that were singing our national anthem and just proud of what I’ve achieved is pretty cool,” Walsh added.
Walsh, the New Zealand team captain, said that he lead from the front.
“I’m definitely one of those captains who’s gone out hard and said follow me lads this is the way to do it. Maybe that was a master stroke by Scott Goodman our team leader to put me in as captain.”
The adductor injury was making its presence felt as he navigated his way around the stadium for the medal ceremony.
“The groin’s definitely sorer than what I thought it would be, but we’re going to get an MRI on it tomorrow and see what the story is as it could have an impact on the rest of my European circuit."
“Obviously the big one is the end of the season the Brussels Diamond League that’s the final and that’s the one I want to be ready for. And if I don’t compete until then that’s okay, that’s the way it is and I might have to cut out of a few more competitions."
“If I was to get injured and get a gold medal I’d take it over getting silver and not getting injured,” he added.
Walsh has been inundated with messages of congratulations and best wishes.
“There have been so many, from mates and even people that I don’t know, just to know there are so many people back home that have been watching it means a lot, not only to me but also the rest of the New Zealand team.”
A re-protest by Ryan Crouser over his third round throw of 22.38m that was disallowed carried on right up to the medal ceremony, to the extent that Crouser turned up ready to collect the gold medal.
“It was just before we walked out to the ceremony I heard from Dale (Stevenson) that everything was going to stay the same, the way it was, but I don’t think it’s been handled in the right way, it’s a bit of a shame and it kind of brought a little bit of a downer to the guys in the medal ceremony room not knowing exactly what the story was, we had Stipe (Zunic) there, with his first ever medal at a major champs sitting in third place and he would have lost that if the protest went through, so it was a weird feeling in the medal ceremony usually it’s quite happy and jovial and today it was a little bit nervous.”
“The re-protest was thrown out just before the medal ceremony which left us quite nervous in the medal room and the boys didn’t know what to think as one guy would have gone from first to second and the last guy goes from third to fourth and doesn’t get a medal at the end of the day.
"Stipe is not a man you don’t want to annoy as he is a former world junior kick boxing world champion, so Crouser is a brave man to try that,” said Walsh.
Walsh’s coach Dale Stevenson said it was a careful programme getting Walsh ready for the final.
“It has been satisfying for me and satisfying for the team. It is a huge team effort that goes on behind the scenes that extends beyond Tom and I so it’s nice to facilitate that for everyone and bring him on this journey,” said Stevenson.
“The nature of championships is that distance almost take secondary importance to placing and sometimes, conditions dependent, 21 metres can be a winning throw and that’s good enough on the day and sometimes it takes 22.50m like it did in Rio, so I guess overall we knew Tom was in shape to be in the mix and once he leaves the warm up track and steps into the call room then the ball is in his court and we don’t really put a distance on it, it’s more just handling it out there and that’s one of Tom’s real strengths."
“Given his injury we had to have a bit of an abbreviated warm up with the adductor mismanagement so we didn’t take any throws before going into the field of play which is unusual, normally we’d take some out the back to get into a rhythm. So just to manage that and talk about it and make sure he was clear enough to execute that process and just deal with the two warm up throws in the field of play was a bit of a new approach."
"We haven’t done that before but part of our ongoing development is putting an importance on dealing with the unknown and that’s just one of those curve balls you get thrown. You can deal with it or make a big deal of it and fortunately it came out alright in the end,” said Stevenson.
Stevenson will make sure that Walsh is clear to compete in the rest of the European circuit before returning to New Zealand.
“I’ll make sure Tom’s fit and healthy to go through for the rest of the season and then we’ve got a quick turn-around for Commonwealth Games and world indoors next year. Now with Tom winning the world title there is the other side of the sport which is the commercial side and that takes on a bit more importance,” he added.
Athletics New Zealand Correspondent