Athletes from countries including Australia, Japan and Canada will descend on the Douglas Track and Field to take on the best of New Zealand’s athletes in what promises to be an outstanding meeting.
The Sir Graeme Douglas International, a World Athletics Continental Tour Bronze Meeting, will host a depth and quality of athletes not seen on these shores since the 1990 Commonwealth Games.
The meet, hosted at the Trusts Area Henderson this coming Sunday, features a number of highlighted events.
The sprints for both men and women should produce fast times and close finishes.
In the men’s 100m Edward Osei-Nketia will take on Jack Hale of Australia who has clocked 10.12 and Rohan Browning of Australia who has a time of 10.08 to his credit, alongside fellow Kiwis Joseph Millar and Hamish Gill.
Zoe Hobbs has won her last four competitions this season since competing at the World Championships in Doha last October. She will be looking to continue her winning streak against Rosie Elliott, Georgia Hulls and Australians Riley Day and Nana Owusu-Afriyie. Hobbs is also down for the 200m along with Day and Owusu-Afriyie and two further top Australians Maddie Coates and Larissa Pasternatsky.
Later in the programme Hobbs will team up with Livvy Wilson, Hulls and Elliott in the 4 x 100m relay where they have a further opportunity to lower the New Zealand national record of 44.20, set by the foursome In Canberra last week.
The shot put will again highlight the field events with Tom Walsh having his first competition this season against fellow New Zealander Jacko Gill, who is competing for the first time since finishing seventh at the World Championships last year. Ryan Ballantyne should achieve his first shot put over 20 metres, after setting a new personal best of 19.64m at the Porritt Classic last weekend, with top competitors Damien Birkinhead of Australia, Jan Jeuschede of Germany and Canadian Jordan Young will providing plenty of incentive.
Dame Valerie Adams has improved with each outing this season, after winning the women’s shot put at Potts Classic in January with 18.65m and at the Porritt Classic with 18.81m. Canadians Brittany Crew, 2018 Commonwealth Games bronze medallist, and Sarah Mitton, will line-up against Dame Valerie and 2018 World U20 Champion and reigning New Zealand champion Maddison-Lee Wesche.
Nick Willis is currently chasing a time of 3:35.00 for the Tokyo Olympic entry standard in the 1500m, and faces Paul Robinson of Ireland, Eric Speakman, Julian Oakley and leading Australians Craig Huffer and Rorey Hunter who won the 2019 Cooks Gardens mile in a personal best 3:57.45.
In the 110m hurdles, Shuhei Ishikawa of Japan, Australians Nicholas Hough and Nicholas Andrews, and Joshua Hawkins of Auckland are expected to provide a close race.
Cantabrians Angie Petty and Katherine Camp face off over 800m and with World University Games and Oceania Champion Catriona Bisset and Keely Small of Australia also competing, a sub two-minute time is on the cards.
Portia Bing, chasing a Tokyo Olympic qualifier of 55.40 in the 400m hurdles, will line up with Sarah Klein of Australia in her quest.
Olivia McTaggart and Nina Kennedy of Australia, who won Bronze at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, square off in the women's pole vault.
Commonwealth Games Champion Kurtis Marschall, a 5.81m vaulter, and fellow Australians Angus Armstrong, Declan Carruthers and Stephen Clough will provide a spectacular showing with New Zealand’s Nick Southgate and James Steyn in the men’s pole vault.
The men’s 400m will be an almost all Australian affair with 2018 national champion Murray Goodwin, 2013 champion Alex Beck, Tyler Gunn and Louis Stenmark along with Efekemo Okoro of Britain currently based in Auckland who won the Potts Classic 400m making it a close finish.
Three fast Japanese runners over 5000m are expected dominate this race with Hideyuki Tanaka best of 13:22.72, Tuta Bando 13:26.70 and Hiroki Matsueda 13:28.61 entered.
Athletics New Zealand Correspondent