Tokyo Olympics: Kiwi Tom Walsh courts disaster, but scrapes into Games shotput final

Kiwi shotput hope Tom Walsh had a nation's heart in its mouth, as he barely scraped through to an Olympic final where he's expected to challenge for gold.

The former world champion faced an automatic qualifying standard of 21.20m, a distance he has thrown hundreds of times in his career, but was dramatically called for three fouls - a situation which should have seen him drop out of the competition.

Circle officials ruled he had put his left foot over the circle rim on all his attempts, but Walsh successfully appealed the ruling twice - kind of a track and field 'captain's challenge' - to eventually record 21.49m and progress as the top thrower from his pool.

The Kiwi - and the rest of New Zealand - waited several tense minutes as officials reviewed and debated the call on his last and biggest effort, before eventually confirming he was safe.

"I'm not sure what the guy was calling," Walsh told Sky Sport. "I thought my first throw was fair and he called it a foul, when it was over the qualifying mark.

"On the second throw, I got a bit tight and a big pushy, and he called me a foul again. I thought 'hang on, what's going on here?'

"It's good to get it done - it's not the way I'd like it, but I had two good throws and I move on to the final."

Walsh insisted was calm and under control the whole time, even when he had to push his case again on the last throw.

"This is what I do and this is hat I do well," he said. "I stuck to what I know worked and it came off."

How much more does he have for the final?


Teammate Jacko Gill also left it until his last throw to progress to the final, managing 20.96m as the ninth qualifier.

American world recordholder Ryan Crouser needed only one toss to advance with 22.05m - the best of the qualifiers and the only thrower better than Walsh on the night.

American world champion Joe Kovacs, who edged both his rivals by a centimetre at Doha two years ago, snuck through with 20.93m, the second-to-last qualifier.

Meanwhile, hammer thrower Julia Ratcliffe finished ninth at her first Olympics, throwing 72.69m and actually leading for much of the opening round, before the favourites found their rhythm.