Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games champion Julia Ratcliffe of New Zealand produced a stunning series of throws in her hometown event, the Porritt Classic in Hamilton on Saturday.
Ratcliffe, beating her own New Zealand record twice and breaking the Oceania Area Record with a throw of 72.35m. Her throw was 15cm short of the Tokyo Olympic Games hammer throw entry standard of 72.50m. In Second place was Lauren Bruce with 67.44m, followed by Australian Alexandra Hulley at 67.15m.
“Really special to produce a record-breaking performance in front of my home crowd. I’m sure it will hit me a bit later but it’s really satisfying I guess. And it’s really cool to have a lot of my team out here like my nutritionist, my physio, my strength and conditioning coach, and of course my dad Dave who coaches me in the throwing.”
All of New Zealand’s top athletics stars shone brightly at the Porritt Classic.
The best throw of 18.81m secured first position for Dame Valerie Adams, while Tom Walsh was first in the men’s shot put with a best effort of 21.35m. Adams finished ahead of Canadians Sarah Mitton (18.30m) and Brittany Crew (17.87m), while Walsh’s training partner Ryan Ballantyne finished second with the best throw of his young career – a personal best of 19.64m.
Two-time Olympic medallist Nick Willis made his 2020 New Zealand debut on the track, convincingly winning the men’s 1500m, crossing in 3m 46.71s after a strong final lap.
“It was a good hard hit out,” said Willis about his first race of the Kiwi summer. “I felt good with 400m to go, and my coaches and I talked about practising running a good last 400 metres, although the last 100 was far from easy.”
In the sprints, Zoe Hobbs was first in the women’s 100m in 11.65s, while Edward Osei-Nketia claimed the men’s sprint double for the second year running – crossing first in the 100m in 10.81s and the 200m in 21.86s.
Josephine Reeves cleared 1.78m in the open women’s high jump to better the entry standard for the 2020 World Athletics U20 Championships in July.
Next up for many athletes is the Sir Graeme Douglas International at Douglas Track & Field, at Auckland’s Trusts Arena next Sunday.
Photo Credit: Alisha Lovrich and Athletics New Zealand