• Bay sprinter relishes extra prep time

Bay sprinter relishes extra prep time

Hawke's Bay sprinter Georgia Hulls reckons the three-week postponement in the buildup to this weekend's national track and field championships in Hastings has worked in her favour.

"I've had some of the best trainings of my career with personal bests since the postponement," Hulls (pictured above, photo John Faulkner) said today.

At her last meet in Auckland on March 13 Hulls, 21, raced over 60 metres and 100m.

"I wasn't expecting much from the 100 as it was a casual race but I ran a personal best of 7.48s for the 60," Hulls recalled.

The Hastings Athletics Club member who is Auckland-based where she is coached by James Mortimeris considered the Bay's best hope for a senior gold medal at the Jennian Homes-sponsored nationals. Havelock North High School product Hulls is ranked No 1 in the country over 200m and this race on Saturday will be her priority event.

"I'll be going hard to try and win the 200 on Saturday and I'll aim for a top two finish in the 100 on Friday," Hulls said.

She will also run in the Hawke's Bay-Gisborne 4 x 400m relay team on Saturday. This team will be finalised at the weekend.

Hulls has represented the Hastings club since she was six and she agreed it would be "pretty special" if she could earn the right to stand on the top podium spot on Saturday afternoon in front of her home crowd.

Fellow HBG rep and Taradale High School product Eric Speakman (pictured below) has the potential to medal in his 5000m race on Friday and 1500m race on Saturday.


"The 5km is my priority and the schedule has played out well for that. I'll be aiming for the win in that and then see what's left in the tank for the 1500," Speakman said.

"A solid time and good placing in the 5km will give me a good ranking towards Olympic selection. Hopefully the weather is as good this weekend as it was here for the Potts Classic in January. Sam won't be here to spoil my party this time," Speaskman said referring to Tauranga's Sam Tanner who pipped him for the national 3000m title at the Potts Classic.

Speakman clocked a personal best of 13m31s for the 5000m in December and is aiming for a time around 13m45s on Friday. He expects Hill City University's Oli Chignell and the Western Bay of Plenty pair of Hayden Wilde and Julian Oakley to provide him with his toughest competition over 5km and Chignell, Oakley and Wellingtonian Hamish Carson to feature in the tussle for medals in Saturday's 1500.

This is Speakman's first injury-free season for four years and he said while he is niggle-free he would have preferred to race when the nationals were originally scheduled. 

It will be a major upset if HBG representative and 20-year-old Karamu High School product Nick Palmer doesn't finish second to Olympian Tom Walsh in the men's shot put. Palmer recorded a PB of 18.41m recently and his peaking at the right time.

Napier Girls' High School product Briana Stephenson is the defending champion in Friday's senior women's long jump. She needs a leap of 6.15m to qualify for the World University Games in China in August.

Stephenson will also race for Auckland's 4 x 100m relay team along with New Zealand's fastest female, Zoe Hobbs, on Friday. It will be a surprise if this team doesn't win gold.