Potts Classic Preview

Potts Classic Preview

The first Area Permit Meeting of 2021 takes place in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand 23 January 2021.

Hawkes Bay Regional Sports Park hosted a series of High-Performance meetings during the quarantine affected 2020 season, highlighted by the Area Record of Lauren Bruce (hammer throw). Hawkes Bay will also be hosting the 2021 New Zealand National Championships from March 5th to 7th, 2021.

You will be able to watch all of the action online from 4:30pm New Zealand time via the following link

Zoe Hobbs has been in fine form and has taken huge strides since winning the Oceania Championships in 2019. Last weekend, she recorded the fastest ever 100m on home soil by a New Zealander, running 11.35 in Auckland, just .03 off the National Record (11.32). Zoe will be looking for that record as well as the Olympic Qualifier of 11.15 not only here, but across the 2021 Season.

Hobbs may not have it her own way, with training partner Symone Tafunai running a personal best last weekend in Auckland of 11.89, whilst Georgia Hulls, a member of the National Record setting 4x100m also in the field. Natasha Eady, Brooke Somerfield and Hulls have earned experience on the international stage and will be looking to run fast here and try to improve the NZL Women’s 4x100m World Rankings in the lead up to Tokyo. Portia Bing (400m Hurdles National Record Holder) steps down in distance to run the 100m here, a step away from her fancied 400m Hurdles.

In the Men’s 100 field, 2019 World Championship representative Eddie Osei-Nketia will be the headline act and will be joined on the start line by his new training partner, National 200m record holder, Joseph Millar. Millar famously threw the discus at the 2018 Continental Cup and achieved hero status from the knowledgeable Ostrava Crowd. If you haven’t seen it, you can watch it here. Hamish Gill ran a brilliant race in Auckland at the Night of 5’s and will expect to be in the mix here, in what should be a good quality and hotly contested 100m

In the Men’s 800m, the stand-out runner is James Preston, with a Personal Best well above the Field. It will be a race against the clock for the New Zealand Under 20 800m record holder.
The Women’s race will see the reigning National Champion will face an interesting test. Katherine Camp with go head to head with long distance specialist Camille Buscomb. Buscomb, more comfortable over 5000m and 10,000m, will be looking to test her speed and relish the opportunity to race in New Zealand, which has been a rarity for her over the past few years.

The Women’s Hammer Throw is arguably Oceania’s best event right now, with the current and former Oceania record holder’s both on the start lists. Lauren Bruce and Julia Ratcliffe have been the form throwers over the past two years, with Ratcliffe first breaking the Area Record (71.39m) on route to winning the Area Championships in 2019, then extending it early in 2020 (72.35m) at the Porritt Classic. Although Lauren broke that record (73.47m) in September at this venue, she hasn’t had her way in the head-to-head match ups between the two. Currently, Julia is on a winning streak that goes back to December 2017, and her only time she has been beaten in a Hammer Throw Competition since winning the Commonwealth Games, was at the World Championships in Doha.

Always a crowd pleaser, the Pole Vault field features the current and future stars of the event, a testament to Auckland based coach Jeremy McColl. The reigning Olympic Bronze Medalist and Area Record Holder Eliza McCartney headlines the field, but her two younger training partners have been setting personal bests this season, with Olivia McTaggart jumping 4.50m at the Night of 5s and Imogen Ayris also jumping 4.50 in late 2020.

The Shot Put is always the headline act in any meet held in New Zealand and the Potts Classic field is no different. Arguably New Zealand and Oceania’s best athlete of the modern era, Dame Valerie Adams needs no introduction. She has recently relocated to Christchurch to train under Dale Stevenson (see article from World Athletics) and will be looking to start her year similarly to what she did at the 2020 Potts Classic, with a win and an Olympic Qualifier. Her new training partner, Tomas Walsh, himself a World Champion, headlines the Men’s Field. Walsh will be looking to start off his 2021 campaign on a positive note, with training partner Ryan Ballantyne hot on his heels and looking towards those all-important ranking points, he’ll need to his best game to take the win.

In other Events, Cameron French, begins his 2021 Campaign in the 400m Hurdles. Whilst in the flat 400m, the young athletes will get a chance to shine. Holly Rule and Tayla Brunger are the fastest in the Women’s 400m, both still in the under 20 age group, they would be both looking for a World Under 20 qualifier, which World Athletics has set at 54.85.

In the field, New Zealand National Long Jump Champion Breanna Stephenson is entered alongside 6m+ jumpers Ashleigh Bennett and Mariah Ririnui. Connor Bell, the prodigious junior talented is entered in the Discus, alongside clubmate Alex Parkinson. Both Men will be looking to improve their ranking position currently 34th and 41st, as the look for that Olympic Qualification spot. Evergreen jumper, Mathew Wyatt, leads a young field in the Men’s Long Jump.

The 3000m races double as the New Zealand National Championships. The Men’s race will be hotly contested, with the strength of New Zealand Distance running on show. Meeting Organiser and 2xCommonwealth Games rep Richard Potts set his personal best over the 3000m in 1996 with 7.54.90. A handy time over the 7.5 laps, and the men’s field includes four athletes all with best underneath that mark: Beamish – 7:44.67i, Baxter – 7:47.84i, Carson – 7:49.24 & Oakley – 7:44.34i.

In the Women’s Field, Kara Macdermid looks to be the class athlete. The 2013 World Under 18 championships representative has the fastest best in the field and ran a personal best over 1500m at last year’s Potts Classic. Others to watch in the race are sub 10min athletes Anneke Grogan and Jean Kozyniak.