Athletics: Zoe Hobbs, Hamish Kerr, Connor Bell claim victories at prestigious Australian meet as Olympics loom

Kiwi track and field stars Zoe Hobbs, Connor Bell and Hamish Kerr have all claimed titles at the Maurie Plant Meet in Melbourne, a World Athletics Continental Tour Gold event that is highly regarded as the most prestigious one-day competition in Oceania.   

Sprinter Zoe Hobbs held off a late charge from Australian prodigy Torrie Lewis to secure gold in women's 100 metre, clocking 11.34s for the win.   

Much of the pre-race attention had focused on Lewis following her Australian national record time of 11.10s last month in Canberra, but benefiting from a dazzling start and blistering first 60m, Hobbs could not be denied as she finished one metre ahead.  

Hobbs, 26, says it's the start of a gripping rivalry between the pair.   

"It's so good to have this level of competition this close to home, especially with Torrie who broke the Aussie record a couple of weeks back," the New Zealand record holder said. 

"Although it's not the time I was after, I'm just happy to bank the win and definitely some positives to take away from tonight. I'm glad to have nailed down the first half of the race, especially as it's leading into the indoor season."   

Torrie Lewis and Zoe Hobbs pose for a photograph after competing in the women's 100 metre final
Torrie Lewis and Zoe Hobbs pose for a photograph after competing in the women's 100 metre final Photo credit: Getty Images

Discus star Connor Bell, 23, continued his incredible run of form by inflicting defeat on Australia's Commonwealth Games champion Matt Denny for the second time in five days.   

The World Championship finalist seized early control of the competition with a 65.18m effort in round one.  

Denny, who was a fourth-place finisher at the 2020 Olympics and 2023 World Championships, was unable to match the feat as the Aucklander was never dislodged from the top spot.  

Meanwhile, after a shaky start which required a second jump to clear 2.17m, Hamish Kerr soared over both the 2.21m and 2.25m marks with his first attempts to win the men's high jump.  

The 2022 World Indoor bronze medalist also attempted a season's best of 2.30m but was just unable to clear the mark, not that he was too disappointed.  

"I'm stoked with the victory," said Kerr.   

"It is awesome to come over here and compete with some slightly bigger boys than I was back in New Zealand. I think I'm in a good place but there is still some work to do before World Indoors.  

"I'm going to have to step up because the boys are raring to go over there. But at the same time, I'm happy with where I'm at and between now and then I hope to find a few more centimetres and be ready to go by indoors."  

New Zealand record-holder Tori Peeters also enjoyed a solid outing registering a season's best of 57.35m to place second in the women's javelin.  

There were also fourth-place finishes for New Zealand champions Sam Tanner and Josh Hawkins in the John Landy Mile and men's 100m hurdles, while Keeley O'Hagan was fourth-equal in the women's high jump.