• McCartney to spearhead quality Potts Classic field

McCartney to spearhead quality Potts Classic field

Eliza McCartney New Zealand’s pole vaulting sensation starts her campaign towards the Tokyo Olympic Games at the Potts Track and Field Classic meeting at the Mitre 10 Sports Park in Hastings on Saturday.

McCartney, who has been plagued with an injury, last competed in Cairns Australia in June 2019. She was in top form prior to this having set a New Zealand all comers and resident record of 4.85m at the 2019 Potts meeting.

The Rio Olympic Games bronze medalist holds the New Zealand national record of 4.94m set in Germany in July 2018.

The Hastings venue has proved favourable for pole vaulters with Olivia McTaggart and Imogen Ayris enjoying competing at the facility in past years.

Both McTaggart and Ayris made it into the top 50 in the world last year with personal best clearances of 4.50m which ranks them fourth in the Commonwealth.

The standard for entry to the Olympic Games is 4.70m. James Steyn and Ettiene Du Preez line up for the men’s pole vault.

The field events will also come alight in the women’s hammer throw with Lauren Bruce and Julia Ratcliffe ranked one and two in the Commonwealth competing, along with Nicole Bradley ranked number four in the Commonwealth. Last year in Hastings Ratcliffe set a New Zealand all comers and resident record of 69.94m which she improved a month later to 70.76m and 72.35m. Bruce achieved a Games qualifier in September last year at the Hastings Athletic Club spring series with a Oceania and New Zealand record of 73.47m. National champion Anthony Nobilo is in the men’s hammer throw.

Tom Walsh and Ryan Ballantyne feature in the shot put. Walsh won last year with 21.10m with Ballantyne second sending the shot out to 19.33m. Local Nick Palmer is also down to compete.

Dame Valerie Adams opens her season of competition in the shot put. At last year’s meeting Dame Valerie won with 18.65m from Maddison-Lee Wesche who is down to compete. Leading Commonwealth women’s javelin thrower Tori Peeters heads the javelin field.

The sprinting will be hot in both the men and women. The Hastings track is renowned for fast times and one of the best fields outside a national championship will relish the opportunity to post career best times. Eddie Osei-Nketia national under 20, 19 and 18 record holder at 10.19 will be up against five times national champion Joseph Millar, national junior champion Tommy Te Puni, Hamish Gill, Tiaan Whelpton, James Guthrie Croft, Cody Wilson, Zachary Saunders and Mogammad Smith.

Zoe Hobbs, fresh from her New Zealand 100m resident record of 11.35 last weekend in Auckland, given favourable conditions could lower the time further.

In 2019 in Hastings Hobbs clocked a then resident record of 11.37 and last year she won in 11.38.

Hobbs is making no predications as to the outcome this time.

“I don’t want to put a number to it, I’m just trying to practice what we’re working on in training.

“Hopefully there will be an improvement from last week as my start wasn’t as strong as what I would have hoped for so I will try and fix that up,” said Hobbs.

The New Zealand 3000m championship will be held in conjunction with the meeting. Eric Speakman of Napier is aiming for the title following his classy 5000m performance just prior to Christmas on Auckland’s North Shore of 13:31.84. Speakman has a best of 7:58.85 from a race in Ireland in 2016.

The 3000m has attracted one of the best fields for some time. Three times previous 3000m champion Hamish Carson, George Beamish who clocked 7:44.67 in the States last February, national road champion Matt Baxter who has a best of 7:47.85, Julian Oakley who ran 7:44.34 three years ago, the rapidly improving Sam Tanner who holds the New Zealand under 20 record of 7:57.57 and Hayden Wilde national 5000m champion who has a best of 7:59.15 make up for an interesting seven and a half laps.

Former local runner Matthew Taylor is defending the title he won in Hastings last year in 8:29.44.
Kara Macdermid, Jean Kozyniak, Anneke Grogan and three times New Zealand mountain running champion Sabrina Grogan are the four leading runners entered in the women’s 3000m championship. Macdermid was second in 2019 and second in the last season’s 1500m. Anneke Grogan was third last year and second in the 10,000m championship.

Katherine Camp will be looking for a three peat in the women’s 800m raced in memory of Sylvia Potts. Her winning time last year was 2:06.87. Camille Buscomb is moving down in distance to compete in the memorial race. Buscomb last raced over 800m in 2014 in a time of 2:08.21. She was fourth at the 2013 Potts Classic. Also entered is Otago runner Rebekah Greene who has a best of 2:05.58.

National under 20 800m record holder James Preston, Benjamin Wall and Zach Bellamy should battle out the men’s 800m.

The 400m has attracted Rowan Blaikie, Bailey Cotton, Brayden Grant and Kairon Pimm in the men and Tayla Brunger, Holly Rule and Alessandra Macdonald in the women. Cameron French will take part in the 400m hurdles.

Connor Bell who came within 27cm of the New Zealand resident discus record of 63.57m last weekend in Tauranga will be targeting that mark again competing against national champion Alexander Parkinson. The women’s discus will also hold plenty of attention with Te Rina Keenan, Savannah Scheen, Kaia Tupu-South and Tatiana Kaumoana entered.

Mariah Ririnui, Briana Stephenson, Kelsey Berryman, Ashleigh Bennett and Zoe Taylor will compete in the women’s long jump, Anna Thomson in the triple jump and in the men’s long jump Charles Annals and Matthew Wyatt square off. Annals and Scott Thomson are in the triple jump.

Alana Barber will set out at 7.00m around the track in a 20,000m track walk. In October Barber completed a 10,000m track walk in 49:37.54 and in November won the national 20km road title in 1:40:44.