NZ Under 20 athletes prepare to take on the world in Finland
A New Zealand team of ten athletes is in Finland for the IAAF World Under 20 Championships starting in Tampere on Tuesday night.
First up will be Ryan Ballantyne, from Te Awamutu and Nick Palmer from Hastings, in the shot put qualifying round, aiming for a distance of 19.60m or inside the top 12 distances to make the final in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
Both athletes are coached by Dale Stevenson, coach to World Champion Tom Walsh. Ballantyne is ranked in the top ten for the event and has experience on his side, appearing at the World Under 18 Championships previously, while Palmer was silver medallist at the Commonwealth Youth Games in 2017.
Isaiah Priddey (Hamilton) and Samuel Tanner (Tauranga) start in the heats of the 1500m tonight. Priddey, with a personal best and NZ Under 18 record of 3:44.10 set in January, is the highest ranked of the Kiwis, but he will have to be at the top of his game to make the final by finishing in the top three in his heat or in the next three fastest finishers across the three heats.
Pole vaulters Olivia McTaggart and Imogen Ayris, both from Auckland’s North Shore, face qualifying in the evening session. Their target is 4.25m or inside the top 12 athletes. McTaggart, with a recent personal best-equalling 4.40m in Germany is hopeful of making the final, and the younger of the two, Ayris who has a best of 4.20m will be on the cusp of qualifying.
The final Kiwi in action on Day 1 is Christopher Dryden (Christchurch), running in the 10,000m final. Dryden, who has a best of just under 31 minutes will have his work cut out against the East Africans, five of whom have run under 28:50.00, but will be hoping to trim some time off his previous best.
On Day 2 Maddison Wesche will contest the shot put, with qualifying in the morning and the final in the evening session. Wesche, from Auckland, has been improving in 2018 and with a best of 17.00m, will be hoping to make the top eight in the tough event.
Sprinter Lucy Sheat, contesting the 100m and 200m will get her campaign under way with the 100m heats. The Blenheim athlete will be aiming to make it through to the semi-finals in both events. A big field of 53 athletes will be battling for 24 semi-final berths.
Also in action on the second day of the championships is Queensland based Kiwi, Katrina Robinson- racing in the 3000m. With a silver and bronze medal to her name at the Commonwealth Youth Games in the Bahamas last year and quick personal bests of 9:03.84 for 3000m and 4:14.05 over 1500m, Robinson has a strong chance for a high placing in both.
Day 3 of the championships on Thursday night (NZ time) will feature the women’s pole vault final and the men’s 1500m final, with a chance of NZ athletes starting in both. The semi-finals and final of the women’s 100m will hold interest if Sheat makes in through the heats.
Later in the championships, Sheat will contest the 200m and Robinson will be in action in the 1500m.