The return to Christchurch of the International Track Meet, being staged at Christ’s College Upper Fields on Feb 4th, received a major boost today with the news that Olympic gold medallist and World shot put champion Valerie Adams and teenage sensation Jacko Gill would both be competing at the meet for the first time.
Adams, one of the hottest favourites in world athletics to defend her Olympic title this year, will kick off her London campaign in 2012 at the Christchurch meet. She will headline the All-Comers Shot Put event, an innovative format used previously at the meet in which men, women, and juniors are pitted against one another using their grade-appropriate implements, which creates a level competition. Her main competition at this stage looks to be coming from Timaru powerhouse Tom Walsh, although organisers are hopeful of adding international opposition for Adams before the fields are confirmed for the meet in 3 weeks.
Adams said she was looking forward to commencing her 2012 campaign in Christchurch, where she had been due to compete in the 2011 International Track Meet until it was cancelled following the Feb 22 earthquake. Adams said today "It’s gonna be great opening my season in Christchurch, it’s an exciting meet and I couldn't think of a better way to begin my 2012 year. It will be nice to be down there with the people of Christchurch after the tough time they have all had".
Teenage throwing sensation Gill, well-renowned for his fantastic exploits in the shot put circle where he has set multiple world age-group records, is ranked number 1 in the world for the under-18 and under-20 age groups and has broken the NZ senior record at just 17 years of age, will turn his hand to the discus event at the Christchurch meet. Although his discus prowess has been previously shadowed by his success with the steel ball, and he doesn’t specifically train for the discus, he is nonetheless ranked number 5 in the world in his age-group, and has his sights set on dominating that discipline in the same way. Gill broke Cantabrian Chris Mene’s national under-18 discus record last year (while still 16) by over two metres, with a mighty throw of 62.05m – a target he will be looking to surpass again in Christchurch with the youth-grade 1.5kg implement.
With the discus being held early in the meet, many competitors are expected to double up for the unique chance to compete against both Adams and Gill on the same day. Jacko has said, "I look forward to competing in Christchurch, I have always had a great time when I have been in town. I hope to meet some of the locals, I am humbled by their bravery and what they have been through.”
Holders of tickets to the cancelled 2011 event will be able to redeem those tickets at the gate, pre-sales are available at various sports stores and council leisure venues in the city, or online at www.internationaltrackmeet.co.nz. Gates will open at 3pm for a 4pm start to the meet, which will run until 6pm. With no allocated seating fans are advised to come early and get a good spot.