Above: Shot putter Tom Walsh in action at the Rio Olympic Games. Photo by Getty Images Sport.
Our first preview for the IAAF World Championships starting this weekend looks at the chances of the male field eventers, all throwers, featuring two shot putters, a javelin thrower and a discus thrower.
Rio shot put bronze medallist Tom Walsh has had a strong series of results leading up to his second world championships event.
Since finishing fourth two years ago at the 2015 Beijing World Championships, the Canterbury builder has won gold at the World Indoor championships in March 2016, finished third in Rio, won the 2016 Diamond League shot put and raised his New Zealand record to 22.21, ranking him 16th all-time in the world.
Walsh’s last two competitions have both yielded tosses of over 22 metres and he is rounding into some excellent form ahead of the world championships.
The biggest threats to the 25 year old Kiwi’s aim to upgrade his Rio bronze come from US shot putters Ryan Crouser and Joe Kovacs.
Olympic champion Crouser, who threw in New Zealand earlier this year to claim two victories over Walsh, won in Rio and has been unbeaten in his last ten outings. His last defeat, which was to Walsh, came at a Diamond League meeting in Zurich in September 2016.
The giant American has a best this season of 22.65 at the US championships in June, the best throw in the world since 2003. Just behind him comes Kovacs who threw 22.57 in May and is the defending world champion.
Competing in the same event is Jacko Gill, eighth in Beijing two years ago and ninth in the Olympic final in 2016. The 22 year old Aucklander improved his best to 21.01m in January this year and will be aiming for another top eight finish.
The former world junior champion (2010 and 2012) is ranked 20th going into the championships but his ability to throw well in major events could see him finish much higher.
Javelin thrower Ben Langton Burnell will be competing at his first major international event at the London World Championships.
A late qualifier for the championships courtesy of his win at the Oceania Championships and a personal best of 82.44m, both in June, his prior international experience has been at the 2015 World University Games where he finished tenth.
The event looks like it will be dominated by Germans who hold the top three ranking positions this season. Johannes Vetter (94.44 this season) and Thomas Rohler (93.90 also this season) will be hard to beat.
The 25 year old Cambridge accountant will need to throw above his personal best to secure a place in the final 12 and progress past the qualifying rounds.
Marshall Hall is a late bloomer who wasn’t thinking about the world championships until he threw a big 64.55m in California in May. Going into the championships ranked 24th, the 28 year old Auckland social worker will need to replicate that performance to progress past the qualifying round.
Hall will be the first Kiwi in action at the championships on Saturday morning NZ time for the discus qualification round.