The annual Sylvia Potts Classic meeting in Hastings on Saturday will provide the ideal platform to launch the upgraded Asics Athletics New Zealand Grand Prix Series.
The feature event will be the women’s 800m in memory of the late Sylvia Potts who represented New Zealand at the 1968 Mexico Olympic Games and the 1970 and 1974 Commonwealth Games and was twice national 800m champion and three times 400m champion.
Last year’s winner in 2m 8.10s Angela Smit of Rangiora has returned to do battle with fellow Cantabrian Hannah Newbould, second last year in 2m 10.81s and Melanie Fayen of Lower Hutt who was third in last season’s senior women’s championship.
Smit, who is the national W19 champion, has a best of 2m 3.87s run in Canada last July. This time ranks her second in New Zealand to Nikki Hamblin this season.
Jenny Blundell is one of 13 Australian athletes who will be competing at the opening Grand Prix meeting to be held at the new Regional Sports Park in Hastings.
Blundell aged 16 is an exciting prospect from Cherrybrook Sydney having won the Australian under 20 title in 2m 6.57s last season.
Also lining up in the feature race are Stevie Paine of Masterton, the New Zealand W16 800m champion and New Zealand secondary schools junior girls champion from last month in Hastings, Kerry White from Te Aroha third in the senior girls 800m at the recent schools championships, Christina Taylor of Invercargill and North Harbour Bays Anna Bramley.
National 1500m champion Hamish Carson of Wellington will compete in the 1500m. At last year’s meeting Carson won the 1000m in 2m 26.92s. Carson will be up against Australian Alex Rowe (18), an 800m runner who is the Australian under 20 champion for the last two years and was fifth in the 2009 World Youth Championships. His best time over 400m is 48.79s and 800m 1m 47.56s. Neil Sampson of Lower Hutt and James List of Scottish Wellington are also down to run the 1500m.
Nicholas Howe (17) of Australia a 10.61s 100m sprinter and 110m hurdles champion from last year’s Singapore Youth Olympics will compete in the 100m.
Michelle Jenneke (17) of Australia, sprint hurdles silver medallist at the Youth Olympics will compete in the 100m hurdles.
In the field events Keri Tongalea will compete in the discus, Tom Walsh and Shaka Sola along with Australians Damien Birkinhead and Luke Cann in the shot put, Kim Mulhall of Australia is in the shot and joins her team mate Danni McConnell in the discus throw, Parramatta’s Brandon Starc (17) high jump champion at the Youth Olympics who has a PB of 2.19m and Australia’s Morgan Ward will give Billy Crayford who cleared 2.14m in November plenty of competition, Marissa Pritchard of Wellington will compete against Australia’s Brooke Stratton sixth at last year’s world junior championships in Canada who has a best of 6.30m in the long jump.
The Grand Prix series covers seven of New Zealand’s key track and field meetings during the season. The remaining meetings are the Cooks Classic in Palmerston North on Tuesday 25 January, the Capital Classic in Wellington on Friday 28 January, the New Zealand Combined Events championships in Tauranga on Saturday 12 and Sunday 13 February, the Porritt Classic in Hamilton on Saturday 19 February, the International Track Meet in Christchurch on Saturday 26 February and the New Zealand Track and Field Championships in Dunedin Friday 25 to Sunday 27 March.
Athletes will be awarded points for both placings and performances which accumulate over the series to determine the overall winners in seven men’s and seven women’s events.
For information and contact details on the Sylvia Potts Classic, go to Sylvia Potts Classic. For information and contact details for the Asics Grand Prix Series, go to Asics Grand Prix Series.