Kiwi Olympic hero splits from longtime coach

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Sat, 8 Jan 2022, 4:16PM
Dale Stevenson and Tom Walsh at the Tokyo Olympics. Photo / Photosport
Dale Stevenson and Tom Walsh at the Tokyo Olympics. Photo / Photosport

Kiwi Olympic hero splits from longtime coach

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Sat, 8 Jan 2022, 4:16PM

For the 2022 season, Kiwi shot put star Tom Walsh is going his own way. 

After a long, decorated career under the watchful eye of national throws coach Dale Stevenson, Walsh revealed that working relationship would not continue this year. 

Under his tutelage, Walsh has won three world titles, gold and silver Commonwealth Games medals and two Olympic bronzes, but confirmed to Newstalk ZB that he decided last November it was time for him to turn the page on that chapter of his career. 

"It was just an opportunity to try something new. I'm a big boy; I'm pretty good at what I do and I understand – I think - how I do it really well. So, if things don't go well, it's all on me now," Walsh said. 

"The good thing about change is there's always an opportunity to do things slightly differently. We had a hell of a run, Dale and I, and now it's time for us to go a slightly different way and try things a little bit differently through a new lens." 

This week, Athletics New Zealand announced both Stevenson and high-performance director Scott Goodman would be leaving the organisation. Stevenson will be leaving his post following the Commonwealth Games in the UK in August, while Goodman will head to Australia in March. 

Walsh said both were leaving due to family reasons and he would be working with assistant coach Hayden Hall when he was in need of guidance. 

The 29-year-old will begin his 2022 season with the World Indoor Championships in Serbia in March, and said that much like in 2021 he faces a lengthy time offshore. 

There were positive signs late last year for sportspeople like Walsh who must travel to compete, with isolating at home planned to be in effect by mid-February as part of a border reopening plan. 

Initially, Phase 1 was planned to take effect on January 16. This stage, now delayed, would allow fully vaccinated Kiwis and other eligible travellers to travel from Australia and self-isolate at home for seven days instead of going through MIQ. 

Phase 2, would have allowed fully vaccinated Kiwis and other eligible travellers from all other countries to travel to New Zealand with self-isolation instead of MIQ. This stage was planned for February 13. However, that date was pushed to the end of February at the earliest as the omicron variant made its way around the world. 

With the Covid-19 environment ever-changing, Walsh said he was most likely going to be abroad for half of the year. 

"[Jacinda Ardern]'s not helping us much. I may be away from March until September, depending on the quarantine status. 

"Ideally, I'd like to come home, but I can't afford 10 days in managed isolation between the end of March and the start of July when world champs is. That means I'll probably be staying away unless the quarantine status changes. 

"It's going to be another challenging year."