Athletics: Hammer thrower Julia Ratcliffe sets national record at Porritt Classic

Julia Ratcliffe stole the show at the Porritt Classic in Hamilton.
Julia Ratcliffe stole the show at the Porritt Classic in Hamilton. Photo credit: Photosport

All of New Zealand's top athletics stars shone brightly at the Porritt Classic in Hamilton on Saturday, with Julia Ratcliffe stealing the show in the hammer throw. 

The Commonwealth Games champion broke the  New Zealand hammer throw record, with a sensational 72.35m heave. 

Her throw was 15cm short of the Tokyo Olympic Games hammer throw entry standard of 72.50m. In Second place was Lauren Bruce with 67.44m, followed by Australian Alexandra Hulley at 67.15m.

The best throw of 18.81m secured first position for Dame Valerie Adams, while Tom Walsh was first in the men’s shot put with a best effort of 21.35m.

Adams finished ahead of Canadians Sarah Mitton (18.30m) and Brittany Crew (17.87m), while Walsh's training partner Ryan Ballantyne finished second with the best throw of his young career - a personal best of 19.64m.

Two-time Olympic medallist Nick Willis made his 2020 New Zealand debut on the track, convincingly winning the men's 1500m, crossing in 3m 46.71s after a strong final lap.

The 36-year-old finished well clear of Napier's Eric Speakman who grabbed second in 3m 49.24s with William Sinclair third in 3m 49.65s.

"It was a good hard hit out," said Willis about his first race of the Kiwi summer. "I felt good with 400m to go, and my coaches and I talked about practising running a good last 400 metres, although the last 100 was far from easy."

In the sprints, Zoe Hobbs was first in the women's 100m in 11.65s, while Edward Osei-Nketia claimed the men's sprint double for the second year running - crossing first in the 100m in 10.81s and the 200m in 21.86s.

Josephine Reeves cleared 1.78m in the open women’s high jump to better the entry standard for the 2020 World Athletics U20 Championships in July.

Next up for many athletes is the Sir Graeme Douglas International at Douglas Track & Field, at Auckland's Trusts Arena next Sunday.