Athletics: Lauren Bruce hammers personal best to set new national, Oceania records

Lauren Bruce in action at Hastings
Lauren Bruce in action at Hastings. Photo credit: Photosport

After eclipsing the national record on the weekend, hammer thrower Lauren Bruce faces the unfamiliar prospect of being hunted, not the hunter. 

Bruce, who has finished runner-up at the New Zealand championships to rivals Julia Ratcliffe or Nicole Bradley on six occasions, was relieved to achieve the record. 

“It has created quite a different scenario,” admits the Timaruvian. “For a long time, I’ve been chasing them and now I’m in a position to be chased, which is exciting.

"I think it’ll be good for the three of us to have that rivalry this coming season.”

Bruce sent the hammer into orbit and almost out of the park with a sensational throw of 73.47m to claim an Oceania and New Zealand record. 

The 23-year-old added more than five metres to her previous best and smashed Ratcliffe's national record of 72.35m in Hastings on Sunday.

“I think we’ve known it’s been there for a long time, so to finally do that, I was really stoked about that,” Bruce says. “Before that, [the record] seemed so far away, even though it had been going really well in training, but it’s different having to put that out in competition. 

"Now I have done that, there is a lot more confidence.”

With New Zealand now home to three of the world’s best hammer throwers, the rivalry is heating up. Bruce's performance makes her the sixth-best thrower on 2020 world rankings, Ratcliffe (72.35m) is 10th, while Bradley (67.11m) is also inside the top 50.  

Ratcliffe has won Commonwealth gold and silver, and could soon be competing against Bruce for Olympic gold on the world stage, while Bradley is a two-time national champion. 

“I got messages from both,” Bruce says. “Julia was the previous recordholder, so she messaged me to say, 'it’s on'.

"Obviously she’ll be wanting her record back and I want to hold onto it.” 

Even though Bruce threw over the Olympic qualifying mark, COVID-19 has closed the qualification window, so she’ll have to repeat her feat again.

"I’ve done it once, so I can do it again." 

Bruce will attempt Olympic qualification again in early December.