2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games: Athletics

  • 21/03/2018
Joseph Millar
Kiwi sprinter Joseph Millar. Photo credit: Photosport

Over the 88-year history of the Commonwealth Games, track and field has proved New Zealand’s most successful sport with 130 medals and 35 golds.

Shot and discus thrower Val Young (born Sloper) stands as our most successful athlete, with five gold medals between 1958-66, including double gold at Perth 1962 and Kingston 1966.

But many of our most memorable Commonwealth Games moments have occurred in athletics, from Yvette Williams, Peter Snell, Murray Halberg, Les Mills, Dick Taylor, John Walker and Anne Audain to, more recently, Beatrice Faumuina, Dame Valerie Adams and Nick Willis.

Adams has won three Commonwealth Games shot put gold medals and will be defending her title on the Gold Coast, but after giving birth only a few months ago, she is somewhat below her best and faces a huge challenge making up lost ground on her rivals.

Sadly, a leg fracture has forced Willis to withdraw from these Games, so he won’t have the opportunity to add to his 1500 metres medals in the last three Commonwealth meets, including gold at Melbourne 2006.

But world champion shot-putter – both indoors and outdoors – Tom Walsh probably stands as our best gold-medal hope on the Gold Coast. He finished with a silver medal four years ago, but has since established himself as one the top exponents in the world, also grabbing silver at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Pole vaulter Eliza McCartney is another strong medal contender, after a surprise bronze medal at the Rio Olympics. She struggled with injury last year, but seems back to her best, after bettering her own national record in a demonstration event in the shadow of Auckland’s Sky Tower.

Keep an eye on the Robertson brothers – Zane and Jake – who moved to Kenya as teenagers to train against the world best and have reaped the rewards. Zane was a bronze medallist over 5000 metres four years ago and shattered the national 10,000 metres record, previously held by Dick Quax, at the Rio Olympics.

In March, Jake recorded a national best of 2h 8min 26sec over the marathon, 33 seconds faster than Rod Dixon’s previous mark.

Men
Cameron French - 400m hurdles
Ben Langton Burnell - javelin
Brad Mathas - 800m
Joseph Millar - 200m
Quentin Rew - 20km road walk
Jake Robertson - 10,000m
Zane Robertson - 10,000m, marathon
Nick Southgate - pole vault
Tom Walsh - shot put

Women
Dame Valerie Adams - shot put
Alana Barber - 20km road walk
Camille Buscomb - 10,000m, 5000m
Siositina Hakeai - discus
Eliza McCartney - pole vault
Olivia McTaggart - pole vault
Angie Petty - 800m
Julia Ratcliffe - hammer
Hollie Robinson - para javelin

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