The International Track Meet in Christchurch returns for the first time in 11 years. The last edition was due to be one of the best meetings ever seen on New Zealand soil, but the devasting earthquake that shattered much of Christchurch in 2011, put a halt to that and an 11th hour cancellation of the meeting.

Fast Forward to now and a lot has changed since 2011. Not the least the new Venue that the meeting will be staged at. Nga Puna Wai Sports Hub, built to replace QE11 Stadium, which was ruined in the earthquake. The Venue has held the past two National Championships, and was partly funded by the International Athletics Foundation, the charitable trust of World Athletics.

This year’s editions of the International Track Meet will be without the international stars of past editions, but with all New Zealand’s best talent on show, it will be a great start to World Athletics Continental Tour for 2021.

The World Athletics Continental Tour is an exciting new series of the best one-day Meets in the world outside of the Diamond League. The Continental Tour consists of three easily understood categories – Gold, Silver & Bronze – ranked by level of prize money, broadcast offering and overall quality.

A Gold level meet requires minimum prize money for the athletes of $200,000 along with live broadcast, a silver level meet requires $75,000 of prize money and live streaming to be made available, whilst Bronze requires $25,000 of prize money.

The Continental Tour in 2021 will begin in Christchurch at the International Track Meeting, and run until September, criss-crossing the globe and each of the six (6) continental geographical areas to encompass more than 100 meetings throughout the world across the three categories.

In addition to an important revenue stream for athletes, it also provides the international competition and qualification pathway opportunities for the majority of international athletes as they prepare for the year’s major championship.

The Men’s Discus will be a highlight at the start of the meet. There are 7 records listed in the Meet Program, and all could be in danger form the inform youngster Connor Bell. Throwing a big personal best at the Potts Classic of 64.29m. The two big marks he will be after will be the NZ national record of 65.03 set by Ian Winchester in 2002 and then the Olympic Qualification standard of 66.00m.

A young field is entered in the Men’s steeplechase, with no athlete in the field, older than the New Zealand and Oceania Record in the event. Peter Renner set the record of 8.14.05 in 1985, whilst the athletes lead by reigning NZ Champion George Guerin, wont be looking at that, they will be looking to push themselves under the 9 minute barrier.

Portia Bing ran impressively last week in her opening 400m Hurdles of the year and will be looking to get the Olympic Qualification standard of 55.40 seconds. Cameron French once again headlines the Men’s 400m Hurdles, and both National Record Holders will be hoping for a win and fast times.  Also looking for fast times will be the Women’s 800m and they will be helped by being paced by NZ Olympian Angie Petty.

Area Record Holder in the Women’s Hammer Throw Lauren Bruce will be looking for an impressive outing in her home city and will be joined by training partner Nicole Bradley. Elsewhere in the field, the Women’s Long Jump is another open event with 3 ladies having personal best over 6m, they will be looking to go over that mark for the first time this season and possibly take the Meeting Record of 6.06m set by Sarah Cowley in 2009.

The Men’s Triple Jump will see two NZ Champions from 2020 go head-to-head, with the U18 Champion Andrew Allan taking on the Senior Champion Ethan Gow. Whilst in the vertical jumps, Josie Taylor has already jumped a PB in the High Jump in 2021 and will be looking to continue that form. Hamish Kerr, will lead the Men’s Field, and hopefully put on a show for the crowd.

The 200m races will both interesting affairs. National Record Holder Joseph Millar is the fastest in the field with a PN and NR of 20.37, but there is a young contingent of sprinters getting closer all the time to that mark. Eddie Osei-Nketia has been much talked about and is the reigning NZ Champion, however he was beaten two weeks ago at the Potts Classic by Tiaan Whelpton, who will be on the inside of Nketia here. Hamish Gill is one to watch as well, with a PB of 20.93 he will be in contention in what will be one of the races of the evening.

Zoe Hobbs, reigning 200m National Champion, will be facing some quality opposition over 200m, with Nat Eady, a winner at Cooks last weekend, as well National U20 Record Holder over 200m Georgia Hulls.

The ITM meeting has always had a strong throwing competition at their meetings, and this year’s Shot Put is no different. The Men’s field sees Jacko Gill and Tom Walsh line up in the same competition for the 23rd time. Walsh has a head to head record with gill of 19 to 3, but Gill has won the last two encounters and will be looking for a big 2021.

Dame Valerie Adams will be throwing in the Women’s SP. Dame Valerie needs no introduction, and her longevity is something to be admirer. Apart from 2017, when she had time off for the birth of her first child, she has thrown over 18m every year since 2002.

Men’s middle-distance running has long been a strength of New Zealand athletics, and currently it is seeing a renaissance, the final event billing deserves to go to the Men’s 1500m. Despite the inform Sam Tanner heading back to the US, it means there are several capable athletes that can win the race. Hamish Carson, a 5 time NZ champion in the 1500m, and an Olympian in 2016 and Julian Oakley a World Indoor Finalist at 3000m, will be leading the field and looking to take line honors.