ZB

Walsh, Ratcliffe head star-studded Comm Games athletics team

Author
Andrew Alderson,
Publish Date
Fri, 20 May 2022, 2:11pm
Julia Ratcliffe (L) and Tom Walsh (R) will defend their Commonwealth Games gold medals in Birmingham. Photos / Photosport
Julia Ratcliffe (L) and Tom Walsh (R) will defend their Commonwealth Games gold medals in Birmingham. Photos / Photosport

Walsh, Ratcliffe head star-studded Comm Games athletics team

Author
Andrew Alderson,
Publish Date
Fri, 20 May 2022, 2:11pm

An 18-strong New Zealand athletics team has been named for the Birmingham Commonwealth Games that includes eight throwers.

Giving it a heave, be it with a hammer, a discus, a shot or a spear, is in vogue and Tom Walsh and Julia Ratcliffe lead the team as defending champions.

However, Ratcliffe has support in the hammer via Lauren Bruce and Nicole Bradley while Walsh will be joined, as usual, by Jacko Gill.

Ratcliffe says she will enter the Games with a fairly relaxed attitude, despite arriving as the defending champion.

"I'm going to go out there and have some fun and throw as far as I can and the results will be what the results will be," Ratcliffe told NZME.

"It's going to take some high numbers to get the medals this year, which is going to be cool again. I don't really set targets for myself in terms of distances, I just go out there and see what I can unleash."

Maddi Wesche will contest the women's shot put, while Connor Bell returns from a broken ankle last year to throw the discus and Tori Peeters will fling the javelin.

Leaping and vaulting are also popular pursuits, with high jumper Hamish Kerr and pole vaulters Imogen Ayris and Olivia McTaggart making the cut.

On the track, Zoe Hobbs makes her Games debut after breaking New Zealand's national 100-metre record three times this past summer.

Hobbs set the current mark of 11.15 seconds at Hasting in February and has a point to prove.

"It's a really special moment for me to be a part of this. I've worked towards this my whole life, being a part of the sport since the age of five," Hobbs told NZME.

"To be standing here and part of all this is a pretty cool feeling."

Portia Bing contests the 400 metre hurdles, Geordie Beamish the 5000 metres and Quentin Rew the 10,000-metre race walk.

High jumper Keeley O'Hagan, 1500-metre runner Sam Tanner and 5000-metre exponent Eric Speakman are selected provisionally.

NZ athletics team for Birmingham Commonwealth Games:
Lauren Bruce, Julia Ratcliffe, Nicole Bradley (women's hammer)
Olivia McTaggart, Imogen Ayris (women's pole vault)
Maddison Wesche (women's shot put)
Tori Peeters (women's javelin)
Zoe Hobbs (women's 100m)
Portia Bing (women's 400m hurdles)
*Keeley O'Hagan (women's high jump)
Jacko Gill, Tom Walsh (men's shot put)
Hamish Kerr (men's high jump)
Connor Bell (men's discus)
Quentin Rew (men's 10,000m race walk)
Geordie Beamish, *Eric Speakman (men's 5000m)
*Sam Tanner (men's 1500m)

* Conditionally selected