It’s one down, two to go in what is turning out to be a special three weeks for Kiwi shot put prodigy Jacko Gill.
Last Monday at the Millennium Institute’s Sovereign Stadium the 16-year-old Auckland phenomenon sent reverberations around the track-and-field world when he surpassed the New Zealand Olympic qualifying standard for London.
He threw 20.38m with his first attempt with the senior shot (7.26kg), sailing past the New Zealand Olympic mark of 20.30m. And though he never beat that in his subsequent hurls, the statement was well and truly made.
Yes, at 16 he is now London bound, and even talking throwing the sort of distance at the Games that could get him “a mere babe among the brutes“ among the finalists in the men’s power event.
But it doesn’t stop there for Gill.
Tonight, back at the same venue, he will have another crack at a special mark when he competes in an event with the under-20 shot (6kg) which could net the youngster a much sought-after world record if everything goes to plan.
Gill is aiming to beat the world junior record of 22.73m set by German David Storl in 2009, and the way he’s going the strapping Kiwi is considered a good chance to surpass the mark set by the current senior world champion.
“We’re really looking for something special to come,” said Gill’s coach, Auckland-based Frenchman Didier Poppe.
“If Jacko can break Storl’s mark now it really would be something outstanding.”
Poppe says he’s convinced better is to come from his young charge, who was slightly nervous last Monday.
Gill will also take part in another competition with the senior shot tonight, though this week the under-20 event will take priority, when he should technically be at his best.
“He’s been targeting this three-week competition for some time,” Athletics NZ sport manager Brett Addison said. “He’s very focused on it and now he’s beaten the Olympic standard he’ll probably be modifying his programme for next year.
“If Jacko can beat that [under-20] record it means he’ll hold every age-group record from [age] 14-19 with the 6kg shot. “Nothing surprises us with Jacko any more. He’s a very special athlete who sets very high standards for himself.
“While sometimes others may not think he can achieve them, he certainly does.”
Addison said Gill wanted to have another crack with the senior shot tonight because he hoped to throw out around the IAAF’s Olympic A standard of 20.50m.
And there’s method to his madness there.
Timaru 19-year-old Tom Walsh is New Zealand’s second best in the shot put, and given his own rapid improvement of late, there’s an outside chance he could also reach the Olympic standard. But for New Zealand to get two shot putters to London they would both have to meet the IAAF’s top qualifying mark. Gill would like to tuck his out of the way sooner rather than later.
The teen sensation also has his sights on the 20.65m mark with the senior shot, which is the under-18 world record set by American Michael Carter all the way back in 1979.
Gill will complete a three-week shot put festival next Monday when he has a tilt at his own world marks with the under-18 shot.
Given what Valerie Adams is achieving already in the women’s ranks, and the path Gill is heading down in the men’s, it may not be too long before New Zealanders indisputably rule the world of shot.
If you’re in Auckland it may be worth popping out to Mairangi Bay tonight around 5pm. Gill appears to be in the process of unleashing something historic.
Source: Herald Online