Some of the biggest names in New Zealand sport have been named to the New Zealand Commonwealth Games Team today.
Beijing medallists Nick Willis (1500m) and Valerie Vili (shotput) are confirmed for the October event as is double Commonwealth gold medallist Beatrice Faumuina (discus). Beijing Olympians Stuart Farquar (javelin), Adrian Blincoe (5000m) and Rebecca Wardell (heptathlon) are in the initial line-up as is Beijing Paralympian Jessica Hamil (F34 shotput).
NZOC Secretary General Barry Maister is delighted to have named the first batch of athletes to the team. “Athletics is a high profile Commonwealth Sport and we’ve got a strong team heading to Delhi,” he said. “Legends like John Walker and Peter Snell are born at the Commonwealth Games and I’m excited to see what athletes like Vili and Willis will achieve in Delhi. These household names are joined by younger athletes who have exciting futures ahead of them and the Commonwealth Games are where it all begins.”
High-jumping teen Liz Lamb is one such young athlete and is heading for her first Commonwealth Games. At just eighteen years of age, Lamb will aim to beat her personal best of 1.85m and gain valuable experience in the international multi-sport environment before setting her sights on the London Olympic Games in 2012.
High Performance Director, Kevin Ankrom, has similar hopes for other athletics newcomers including Brent Newdick, Nikki Hamblin and Monique Williams. “I am hopeful that our up-and-coming athletes can continue to improve and use Delhi as an opportunity to fine tune their skills at a championship event,” he said.
Athletics is traditionally a strong for New Zealand at the Commonwealth Games and since 1930 New Zealand has won 117 Commonwealth medals. New Zealand athletes must demonstrate they are capable of finishing within the top six at the Commonwealth Games to meet New Zealand Olympic Committee selection criteria for Delhi.
The athletes named today are the first round of expected athletics selection with additional nominations expected at the end of July.
Kimberly Smith (marathon) has met the selection criteria, however she will confirm her attendance at a later date and has the support of Athletics New Zealand and the New Zealand Olympic Committee in this decision.
The team named today is:
Valerie Vili Shot Put (Auckland)
Nick Willis: 1500m (Ann Arbor, MI, USA)
Adrian Blincoe 5000m (Philadelphia, PA, USA)
Brent Newdick Decathlon (Auckland)
Nikki Hamblin 800m/1500m (Cambridge)
Andrea Miller 100mH (Gold Coast, Australia)
Beatrice Faumuina Discus (Auckland)
Elizabeth Lamb High Jump (Auckland)
Monique Williams 200m (Tokoroa)
Rebecca Wardell Heptathlon (Christchurch)
Stuart Farquhar Javelin (Hamilton)
Jessica Hamill F34 shotput (Invercargill)
Team coaches and support staff selection announcements will follow later in June.