Tokyo Olympics: Friendly face helps Kiwi shotputter Tom Walsh avoid shock Games elimination

Confusion, panic and disbelief - Tom Walsh and his team, including a shocked Dame Valerie Adams, experienced the full range of emotions, as the former world champion avoided a surprise early exit from the Tokyo Olympics. 

A genuine NZ medal hope at these Games, his shotput dream seemed to have ended at the qualifying stage, before a fellow Cantabrian came to the rescue. 

Qualifying for the final was meant to be a one and done for Walsh, but he quickly saw red.

"I'm not sure what the guy was calling me on," he said. "I thought the first throw was fair."

Walsh's coach Dale Stevenson is able to explain what was being seen by the umpire.

"The rim of the circle sits like that," he says. "You're allowed to go up against it, but if you roll up onto the rim, you get red flagged."

And on the second throw, it happened again.

"He called me on a foul again, I was like 'hold on'."

The decision on Walsh's second throw was overturned, as he sent a microphone flying, but the distance of 20.38m wasn't enough, leaving it down to his last throw.

Celebration turned to disappear - another foul throw seemed to end his Olympic dream.

But once again it was reviewed by the chief official Trevor Spittle, also a Cantabrian, overturning the decision and Walsh was through.

"He wasn't doing us any favours, but he did his job well, and we were fortunate just to have a familiar face and a calm head," says Stevenson. "He's done Olympics and world championships."

The use of video replays allowed Walsh to see the funny side to the debacle.

"I was like 'what's going on here', so it's good to get it done, not the way I'd like it to be done, but there were two really good throws there."

And for Walsh's training team, including Dame Valerie, the trauma they suffered will result in a team fine.

"I said to Valerie, who was sitting behind me, 'both of you owe me a bottle of Scotch after that'... making pretty hard work of something that shouldn’t have been that hard."

If Walsh can add to the bronze he picked up in Rio, all is sure to be forgiven.