Shot put 1-2: Walsh wins gold, Gill takes silver


Tom Walsh said before competition began that on a good day he was untouchable.

Today was a very good day. And not just for Walsh.

The defending champion has claimed his second straight shot put gold medal at the Commonwealth Games, essentially sealing victory with his first throw before applying an exclamation mark with his last.

Walsh opened the competition at Alexander Stadium with a commanding effort of 21.98m, which surpassed the personal-best distances of everyone else in the field, and finished it off with a 22.26m flourish.

The 30-year-old was joined on the podium by compatriot Jacko Gill, who won his first medal at a major championships by seizing silver with a personal best of 21.90m.

The Kiwi pair produced 12 of the top 13 throws of the competition, the best of those seeing Walsh win the 17th gold by a Kiwi in Birmingham, equalling the nation’s record set at Auckland 1990.

For Walsh, it provided the perfect capstone to a Games that began when he last week led out the New Zealand team at this same venue, carrying the flag alongside Joelle King.

It also provided a golden consolation prize after he surprisingly failed to reach the podium at last month’s world championships, after which Walsh said he had “a rocket up the arse” to again prove his abilities.

Sufficiently fired up, he now has two Commonwealth Games golds sitting alongside the silver he won in Glasgow and the Olympic bronze medals he picked up in Rio and Tokyo.

For Gill, meanwhile, silver offered a long-overdue reward for the promise he showed in his career, having earned earlier prominence than his senior compatriot by taking back-to-back titles at the world junior championships.

The 27-year-old has never reached those same heights at senior level. But in Oregon last month he finished seventh for the second world championships in a row – sandwiching a ninth-place effort in Tokyo – and earlier this year he set what had been his personal best of 21.58m.

Unlike the dramas that plagued that Walsh’s performance in Tokyo, where he narrowly escaped disqualification after initially being given three no-throws in qualifying, this was a much more straightforward evening for the favourite.

Walsh stepped into the circle in Birmingham and immediately sent his first attempt out to the 22-metre line, falling a couple of centimetres short of that mark but climbing half a step to the top of the podium.

Job almost done, Walsh sat down and draped his arm over the back of a chair, appearing supremely relaxed as he watched to see whether he would have Kiwi company on the dais.

Gill’s first effort made that prospect look likely. At 20.48m, it put him second after the first of six rounds, and left plenty of room for improvement.

Walsh’s next wasn’t quite as impressive, but his distance of 21.46m was the second-best in the final, with Gill then edging further clear in silver with 20.88m.

At the halfway mark of the competition, he was 55cm ahead of Nigerian Chukwuebuka Enekwechi, who claimed silver on the Gold Coast. And after Gill’s fourth effort of 21.20m, that advantage had been extended to 87cm.

Walsh’s fourth reminded his teammate who remained in command, recording 21.84m, before Gill enhanced his hold on silver with a fifth throw of 21.29m – and confirmed that prize with a personal-best effort that saw him finish 1.33m ahead of England’s Scott Lincoln in bronze.

All that remained was for Walsh to celebrate in a manner that reemphasised his Commonwealth dominance, outdoing even himself before wheeling away in delight to end another golden night.

  By Kris Shannon in Birmingham

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