Commonwealth Games 2022: New Zealand athletics team named for Birmingham

  • 20/05/2022

Defending champions Tom Walsh and Julia Ratcliffe headline an 18-strong NZ athletics team for the Birmingham Commonwealth Games in July.

At Gold Coast 2018, Walsh won gold in the men's shot put, while Ratcliffe topped the podium in the women's hammer throw.

Ratcliffe will be joined by Oceania record-holder and Tokyo Olympian Lauren Bruce and Aucklander Nicole Bradley, marking the first time New Zealand have been represented by three women's throwers at the same event.

Alongside Walsh in the shot put is Jacko Gill, who'll make his second Commonwealth Games appearance, while Maddi Wesche - the Tokyo Olympic sixth-place finisher - will try to follow in the rich tradition of past NZ women in the event.

World indoor champs bronze medallist Hamish Kerr will be looking to back up his recent success, while Olivia McTaggart and Imogen Ayris will look to deliver in the pole vault, with Olympics bronze medallist Eliza McCartney absent due to injury.

Kerr said the motivation from missing selection makes his selection this year all the more satsifying.

"I used that disappointment as motivation to prioritise my jumping, so to be named in the team this time around is hugely gratifying," said Kerr. 

"The standard of high jump in the Commonwealth is incredibly high right now, so I look forward to the challenge."

On the track, sprinter Zoe Hobbs will make her Commonwealth Games debut in the prestigious women's 100m event, after a stellar season in which she broke the NZ record three times.

Portia Bing will compete in the women's 400m hurdles, while Geordie Beamish will contest the men's 5000m and Quentin Rew the men's 10,000 track race walk.

Three athletes have been selected subject to meeting their conditions before the deadline on 26 June - high jumper Keeley O'Hagan, Tokyo Olympic 1500m runner Sam Tanner and 5000m exponent Eric Speakman.

"We'll head to the Commonwealth Games with high hopes, given the mix of experienced internationals and several emerging athletes who will have their first test on the world stage," said Athletics NZ high performance director and Commonwealth Games team leader Scott Newman.

"The high bar set for selection and coming directly from a World Championships, has set this team up for an anticipated strong performance overall."

The Birmingham Games begin on July 29 (NZ time).