Commonwealth Games: Kiwi shot-putter Tom Walsh blindsided by cancelled Victoria Games

Tom Walsh in action at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.
Tom Walsh in action at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. Photo credit: Getty Images

Two-time Commonwealth Games shot put champion Tom Walsh says he was blindsided by the news that Victoria had cancelled its plans to host the 2026 Games due to budget blow-outs.

The Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) struggled to find a host before Victoria volunteered in April 2022.

But Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said the projected cost had now tripled and become "well and truly too much" for the state to bear.

The CGF called the decision "hugely disappointing" and said it was "committed to finding a solution".

Walsh, who is in Europe, said he thought it was a joke when he first heard the news.

"It is very disappointing. It's almost a home Games and it would have meant a lot of Kiwis would have had a lot of family and friends go over and watch them compete."

Tom Walsh with his gold medal at Birmingham 2022.
Tom Walsh with his gold medal at Birmingham 2022. Photo credit: Getty Images

While the CGF was looking to find an alternative venue, Walsh wasn't sure it would be possible.

"It would be a real shame if we didn't get to have another one.

"Obviously you'd think of the UK or Canada that would have the facilities and financial backing, but it's a tough one for sure."

The UK had always held a very successful games, Walsh said.

"The English know how to put on sporting events and from my point of view the fans in Birmingham (2022) were awesome and amazing, and it wouldn't be a shame if we had to go back there for sure."

While he initially only thought about the impact for him, Walsh said, he now appreciated what it meant for sports that have the Commonwealth Games as their premier event.

"That kind of takes out one of their big things for sure. I have World Championships, Olympic Games and Diamond League.... it's definitely more gutting for sports like bowls than for track and field."

It was is important for athletes to have goals like the Commonwealth Games to aim for, Walsh said.

"When we had Covid it took away direction and that goal.

"The big goal of world championships, Olympics and Commonwealth Games does drive so much of what you do, it gets you up in the morning and it allows you to wear the black singlet.

"To have that taken away is really tough and shitty."

He believed the Commonwealth Games still had a place on the calendar.

"For New Zealand and New Zealanders it's a massive thing still.

"Maybe we should hold it in New Zealand and maybe we should put some pressure on the politicians to put their hand up for it.

Walsh finished third at the Continental Tour meeting in Hungary, throwing 21.85 metres.

America's Ryan Crouser and Joe Kovacs were first and second.