Dare New Zealanders dream of two shot put medals at the London Olympics after the extraordinary deeds of Valerie Adams and Jacko Gill?
The 27-year-old Adams is the red-hot favourite to defend the gold medal garnered in Beijing after winning her third world championship title in 2011.
Auckland wonderkid Gill has just turned 17 and, under International Association of Athletics Federation age-qualification rules, will need dispensation to line up in London. But the youngest world junior champion of all-time (edging out Jamaican sprint ace Usain Bolt) has consistently shown he’s at home at elite level.
Let’s get things in perspective. Twenty-eight athletes threw the shot further than Gill in 2011 some repeatedly. His personal best, 20.38m, is almost 2m behind the best 2011 mark (22.21m) by Canada’s Dylan Armstrong.
But Gill’s rate of improvement is so astonishing and his speed so explosive no-one would rule out a rapid rise up the ranks in 2012. London might be too early to expect two Kiwi shot putters on the medals dais. But Rio 2016, when Adams will still be in her prime at 31, and Gill fully grown at 21, is a definite possibility.
Adams was at her imperious best this year, benefiting hugely from her tutelage from accomplished Swiss coach Jean-Pierre Egger, the mentor of former male world champion Werner Gunthor.
The Aucklander relocated to Switzerland to train under Egger’s keen eye. She seemed fitter, faster and focused after an annus miserabilis in 2010 which included a split from long-time coach Kirsten Hellier, a marriage breakup and a season of playing second fiddle to Belarusian rival Nadzeya Ostapchuk.
But Adams was all over Ostapchuk in 2011. She started the year with a new national record of 20.33m but the Swiss training regime paid dividends in Daegu, South Korea in September where she hurled a herculean 21.24m a championship record on her final throw. Adams already had the title wrapped up when she thought what the hell and when I unleashed the bloody shot I smacked the crap out of that thing and off it flew.
“It was the most amazing feeling, not only breaking 21m but also breaking the championship record, which had stood for such a long time,” she told Fairfax Media. “And also beating Ostapchuk by such a long margin. It was a very satisfying competition.”
She’d beaten Ostapchuk in four consecutive Diamond League competitions prior to Daegu and has a clear psychological advantage for Olympic year.
Source: Fairfax NZ News