Kiwi high jumper Hamish Kerr smashes national record, claims gold at World Indoor Athletics Championships


Hamish Kerr enjoyed the finest day of his athletics career to shatter the New Zealand record, equal the Oceania record and set a world lead of 2.36m to strike high jump gold with a jaw-dropping performance at the World Athletics Indoor Championships in Glasgow.

The 27-year-old Christchurch-based athlete produced a performance of near perfection to claim the biggest honour of his career so far and help New Zealand to its third medal in Scotland following the silver medal performances of Eliza McCartney and Tom Walsh in preceding days.

Kerr's gold also ensures New Zealand matched its best ever performance of three medals at a World Indoor Championships achieved at the 2016 edition in Portland, Oregon when Walsh struck gold and Dame Valerie Adams (shot) and Nick Willis (1500m) claimed bronze medals. One more session remains with both George Beamish and Maia Ramsden in 1500m finals action.

Coolness personified throughout the event, Kerr opened with a seemingly effortless first time clearance at 2.15m before maintaining his perfect record at 2.20m - a height where surprisingly four of the 12-strong field exited the competition.

The flawless record was maintained at 2.24m for the James Sandilands-coached athlete - a height where defending champion Sanghyeok Woo of the Korean Republic started to show brittleness, requiring a third attempt to stay alive in the competition.

Kerr continued to apply huge pressure on the field as he made it four from four soaring over a season's best 2.28m - a height after which he knew he was guaranteed a medal as only Woo and American Shelby McEwen - both with their second attempts - managed to successfully negotiate.

Maintaining his drive for perfection a first-time clearance at 2.31m followed - a mark that was beyond Woo and which McEwen received two Xs before the US Indoor champion gambled and raised the bar to what would have been a PB height of 2.34m.

Returning to jump again, Kerr registered a first failed attempt of the night at 2.34m but McEwen's high stakes gamble did not pay off and the Kiwi secured gold, joining Walsh and Adams as the third New Zealander to be crowned a World Indoor champion.

Still, the night was not done. Feeling confident and in the zone, Kerr switched his focus to 2.36m - 2cm beyond his national record and an Oceania record-equalling mark previously achieved by Australian's Tim Forsyth and Brandon Starc.

After narrowly missing out with his first attempt with his final effort he soared imperiously over the bar and as he lay on the mat, he held his head in his hands in sheer disbelief at what he had accomplished. The 2.36m height crowning the perfect day. McEwen snagged silver on countback from Woo in bronze as both cleared a best of 2.28m.

A delighted Hamish said: "I'm over the moon. We've dreamed about it and discussed it, the team believed it was going to happen but for me it didn't happened until it happened and now it feels so special.

"I knew I was in good form and the jumps were there and I got a good feeling from the track straight away which was a really good sign. But (during the comp) it was just about trying to calm the nerves and focus on my own thing which got tougher at the end. It was awesome to get it done.

"Probably the only thing I could have added to the dream (day) was jumping 2.38m, which is the goal this year."

On how today's performance sets Hamish up for the rest of the year he added: "It's confirmation of where I'm at. I knew I was capable, but Paris is going to be a different ball game. There is going to be rounds and added pressure and expectation. Today is a great starting point but I'm no means ready to compete in Paris."