Press Releases

International Track Meet – Media Release

“Adams sets world leading mark at ITM”

 

Monday 24th February, 2014                                                                       For immediate release

The International Track Meet for 2014 was headlined by double Olympic champion Valerie Adams, and the world’s best shotputter didn’t disappoint in her first competition since September, with the best distance in the world so far this year.

The strong performance, with four throws over 20m culminating in a best of 20.19m, was enough to convince her that that she was ready to step back onto the global championship stage at the World Indoor Championships next month, after recovering from ankle and knee surgery last year.

Joining her in Poland for the World Championships will be her closest rival on Saturday, national record holder for the men’s event Tom Walsh.  Walsh was disappointed with his performance at his home event, winning the men’s competition comfortably but ceding bragging rights to Adams with a best performance of 19.89m. That he was disappointed with the performance, but still broke his own meet record set last year, demonstrates how far he has progressed in 12 months – however he will take the win and left yesterday for World Indoors ready for his first senior representative appearance in the black singlet.

The two New Zealand 3000m championship races were both taken by Aussie visitors with impressive front running displays, and both national titles were taken by gutsy efforts from locals prepared to chase their illustrious opponents. Rosa Flanagan led for several laps after the early pace was controlled by Dutch athlete Lesley van Miert, before Australian Olympian Eloise Wellings threw down the gauntlet. Flanagan was able to hang on well for an excellent second placing from the fast finishing Nikki Hamblin, taking her first senior national title at just 17 years of age.

Meanwhile in the men’s championship race, another Australian Olympian, Ben St Lawrence, was paced through the first few laps by compatriot Tristan Garrett before striking out on his own, with only local athlete Dan Balchin prepared to follow the searing pace set by the Oceania record holder for 10,000m. Balchin faded to third behind Irishman Mark Hanrahan but was still good enough to take the national title ahead of New Brighton Olympic clubmate Callan Moody, and Wellington’s Hamish Carson. St Lawrence finished in 8min3.02sec, just over 5sec outside the meet record set by Ryan Gregson at QEII Stadium in 2009.

In the popular new Throws Quadrathlon, Walsh doubled up for a win and new personal best in the discus, narrowly ahead of discus specialist Marshall Hall. Hall did take some consolation however, in coming away from the weekend with a new meet record set in the qualifying rounds on Friday night at Rawhiti Domain. Walsh also took the overall quadrathlon competition from junior hammer throwing sensation Matthew Bloxham.

The women’s quadrathlon was taken by Auckland’s Te Rina Keenan with excellent consistency across all four events, although she could only register third in her specialist discus event behind rising star Tina Hakeai and Australia’s Christie Chamberlain. Hakeai posted her second Commonwealth Games B standard qualifier, which should be enough to book her ticket to Glasgow.

One of the most exciting races of the day came in the women’s 800m, where some powerful frontrunning from local favourite Angie Smit, who took up the lead when the pacemaker stepped off, saw her hold off a strong challenge from Irish 1500m champion Laura Crowe and Commonwealth silver medallist Nikki Hamblin.

Further excitement came in the sprint events, where the 4x1lap relay went down to the wire again – last year the North Island team was caught on the line by their South Island rivals by a margin of 4/100ths of a second, and this year northerners got their revenge by a slightly larger margin but still less than half a second.  In the innovative “new” 100m handicap, a throwback to the days of professional matchraces such as Scotland’s Powderhall and Australia’s Stawell Gift event, the blanket finish saw the race awarded to national squad member Cameron French by just 1/100th of a second from Christ’s College schoolboy Elliott Nye on his home track, with Auckland’s Tama Toki another 1/100th behind in third.  Earlier, Toki had taken second to national 400m champion Alex Jordan in the 300m event, with 2010 winner Dan O’Shea in third.

Full results are available at internationaltrackmeet.co.nz/athletes/results-3

 

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International Track Meet – Media Release

“800m Meet Record under Threat” 

Saturday 15th February, 2014                                                                      For immediate release

The 800m races at the International Track Meet, to be held in Christchurch on 22nd February, took on extra spice today, with an exciting 3-way battle looming in the women’s event.

Rising star Angie Smit, the local hero and twice winner of the women’s event at this meet, will have a rematch against double Commonwealth silver medallist Nikki Hamblin, who won the inaugural event at QEII Stadium in 2009 with then-16-year-old Smit chasing hard in third.  However it is Smit, who competed at the World Championships in Moscow and has already qualified for this year’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, who will now start as favourite alongside Irish athlete Laura Crowe, with Hamblin making a long-awaited return from injury.

Smit holds the current meet record at 2min05.5sec, set at the old QEII Stadium in 2010 after she broke Hamblin’s mark from 2009. That mark looks to be under serious threat on the fastest grass track in the country, with all three athletes holding personal bests between 1m59.6 and 2m00.9 – Hamblin and Smit are New Zealand’s #2 and #3 of all time at the distance, while Crowe is the 4th fastest Irish athlete ever.

Hamblin is delighted to be returning to the meet, which she last competed at in 2009, although she also attended as an ambassador in 2012. “I’m really excited to kick-start my 2014 campaign against such great competition, right here in New Zealand” she said today.

The men’s 800m shapes as a trans-Tasman battle, with local favourite Brad Mathas expecting to be pushed hard by Australia’s Tristan Garrett. Mathas was pipped on the line by just 1/100th of a second by England’s Sam Petty last year, and will be keen to regain the title he won in 2012. Southland teenager Jordan Rackham, the NZ secondary schools champion who has caught the eye of Olympic silver medallist Nick Willis as one to watch, will also be a wildcard entry who could surprise, but will face tough competition from Wellington’s Tim Cornish and Otago’s Ben Anderson.

Event Director Paul Coughlan said today “the 800m has held a special place in this meet since we shifted to the grass track, after we celebrated the 50th anniversary of Sir Peter Snell’s world 800m record on grass here two years ago”. The rematch between Smit and Hamblin is also a graphic demonstration of the event’s athlete development focus, with Smit having progressed from teen prodigy to established international in the five years since the inaugural event.

Entries are now closed for the event, although Coughlan did not rule out adding additional names to the fields as athletes confirmed their availability. Updates on competitor entries and ticket availability are on the website internationaltrackmeet.co.nz

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International Track Meet – Media Release

“Adams Confirmed for Christchurch” 

Monday 10th February, 2014                                                                       For immediate release

The International Track Meet confirmed today that Valerie Adams would be returning to Christchurch next week to compete in the Radio Sport Allcomers Shot Put.

New Zealand’s premier track and field meet, again being held at Christ’s College, on the 22nd of February, includes an innovative Throws Quadrathlon this year, of which the Shot Put is the pinnacle event.  Adams will be up against some of NZ’s best young throwers, both male and female, as well as Australian competitors.  This will see the New Zealand record holder for the men’s (local favourite Tom Walsh) and women’s events go head to head for bragging rights.

Walsh, who trained with Adams in Switzerland in Europe last year prior to breaking the New Zealand record in Australia in December, was delighted that Adams was confirmed. “She’s a superstar, it will be great to have her competing here in Christchurch again” he said today.

The shot put will kick the International Track Meet off in style, being the first event on the programme at 4.00pm sharp.  Event director Paul Coughlan commented that crowds should get there early to catch the action – “Valerie is the best in the world, a once in a generation superstar, so let’s get the crowd in around her and give her a warm Canterbury welcome” he said today.

Tickets are already on sale at Council venues and selected sports shops, as well as online, and would be on sale at the gate from 11am on the day. The gates will open at 3pm, and Coughlan is predicting a queue to get in. “Our first year at Christ’s College, we had a queue down Rolleston Ave to the Armagh St bridge – the oldtimers said they haven’t seen that for athletics since the 1974 Commonwealth Games. I wouldn’t be surprised to see that again with people wanting to get a good spot to see Val and Tom throw.”

The throws fields were further boosted today by the announcement that Australian Dani Samuels, a former world discus champion who competed against Beatrice Faumuina at this meet in 2010, would be returning alongside two promising young compatriots, Christie Chamberlain and Alix Kennedy.  They would be taking on the Kiwi trio of Siositina Hakeai, Te Rina Keenan, and Leesa Lealaisalanoa, who all demonstrated good form at the Porritt Classic in Hamilton last weekend. Hakeai in particular will relish the international competition, after throwing a Commonwealth Games qualifying standard and NZ under-20 record in Hamilton.

The quadrathlon will commence with the hammer throw and qualifying rounds of the discus and shot put at Rawhiti Domain on Friday the 21st, with the top athletes in shot and discus going through to the main event on Saturday 22nd.  Updates on competitor entries and ticket availability are on the website internationaltrackmeet.co.nz

 

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International Track Meet – Media Release

“Ulmer to Christchurch as Young Stars take Centre Stage”

Tuesday 4th February, 2014                                                                          For immediate release

The International Track & Field Trust today announced that the charity luncheon on February 21st, preceding the International Track Meet at Christ’s College the next day, will be headlined by guest speaker and Olympic gold medallist Sarah Ulmer.

Ulmer will be joined by Athletics New Zealand’s High Performance Director Scott Goodman, and will discuss the development of tomorrow’s champions, something the Trust are very proud to be assisting with through the range of events held at New Zealand’s premier international track and field meeting.  The luncheon will be hosted at the Mashina Lounge in the Christchurch Casino, from 12.30pm on Friday 21st Feb.

The International Track Meet returns to its successful venue of the last two years, the Upper Field at Christ’s College, on February 22nd, the third anniversary of the earthquake which devastated parts of Christchurch.  But just as the rebuild of the city and new developments at the College go up around them, the current and future champions of New Zealand athletics will take another step in their own development.

Athletes like Tom Walsh and Angie Smit – two very different athletes, but with a lot in common – are great examples of the meet’s development pathway plans coming to fruition.  Both competed as promising 16-17 year olds in the early meets in 2009-2010 at QEII Stadium, against international competition. Now, both are established international athletes in their own right, competing at Diamond League level in Europe last year, and are the headline acts at the International Track Meet back on home turf. Smit represented New Zealand in the 800m at the 2013 World Championships in Moscow, and Walsh has qualified to do the same in the shot put at the World Indoor Championships in Poland next month, after breaking the national record twice in December.  Both are also expected to put in strong performances at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games later this year.

These athletes have become the idols who today’s youngsters aspire to follow. Youngsters like 17-year-old Sean Eustace of Christchurch – Sean first competed at the International Track Meet in 2009, running the children’s 4x100m relay for his Christchurch Avon club as a 12-year-old. He competed in the same event in 2010, then graduated to the secondary schools relays at Christ’s College in 2012.  In 2013 he ran the Open Mile Handicap event, the key development level race that year, and hopes to complete the full development pathway by stepping up to the elite middle distance events in the next few years.

Event Director and Trustee Paul Coughlan said today “All these athletes are a perfect example of what we’re trying to achieve with both the International Track Meet, and the charitable trust we’ve established to own and support it. As we have done with athletes like Tom and Angie, we look forward to Sean’s progress, and are excited to be a part of his story.”

You can support the development of the International Track & Field Trust by coming to the International Track Meet on February 22nd, the charity luncheon on the 21st, or by joining the Supporters Club. Ticket sales and details are on the website – internationaltrackmeet.co.nz

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Media contact:                  Paul Coughlan, paul@internationaltrackmeet.co.nz, 027-2233-028

 

“National 3000m fields strengthened by Internationals”

Monday 27th January, 2014                                                                         For immediate release

 

Top quality international class athletes have confirmed their intention to race against New Zealand’s best in the New Zealand 3000m Championships for both men and women at next month’s International Track Meet in Christchurch.

Organisers announced today that in addition to New Zealand’s finest domestic middle distance athletes vying for the national titles, the fields would be strengthened further by the addition of three Australian Olympians and an Irish international.

The men’s field for the New Balance 3000m will be headlined by Oceania record holder over 10,000m, Ben St Lawrence, who will be familiar to ITM fans after winning the 5000m at the 2010 meet, the last held at QEII Stadium. St Lawrence, who ran the 10,000m for Australia at the London Olympics and boasts an outstanding 3000m personal best of 7min40sec, will be joined by Irish international cross-country rep Mark Hanrahan, who finished fourth in the Hunter Classic in Australia last week.  The fastest Kiwi in the field is current national 1500m and half marathon champion Hamish Carson of Wellington, who posted an impressive 7min49sec in Europe in 2011, and is fresh from his second place in the national 10,000m title race in Auckland last week.

Offering a strong challenge to Carson for the New Zealand championship crown will be Canterbury duo Daniel Balchin and Callan Moody, both national 1500m finalists in the last two years; Auckland’s Stephen Lett, a double NZ champion at 10,000m; Wellington’s Matt Harris, who chased Nick Willis through for third in the Cooks Classic mile in Wanganui last week, and Wanaka’s rising star Oska Inkster-Baines.

The field for the Brian Taylor Memorial Women’s 3000m is also looking very strong, with Australian Olympians Eloise Wellings and Genevieve LaCaze confirmed to compete against the best of the Kiwis.  Wellings ran in both the 5000m and 10,000m at London in 2012, while LaCaze was Australia’s sole representative in the 3000m steeplechase. Wellings also competed at the Commonwealth Games in both 2006 and 2010, finishing fourth in the 5000m in Melbourne.

They will be joined by the New Zealand title contenders Rosa Flanagan, who recently qualified for the World Junior Championships; Holly van Dalen, whose twin sister Lucy was involved in an exciting battle with Dutch Olympian Susan Kuijken in the same race last year; and Canterbury duo Nicki McFadzien and Rachel Kingsford, who were both members of the NZ squad at the prestigious Chiba Ekiden Road Relay in Japan late last year.

Event director and trustee Paul Coughlan is delighted at the strength of the fields already, and expects more New Zealand athletes to signal their intentions before entries close on the 10th of February. “The fields are starting to come together nicely – the nation’s best middle distance runners all want to take each other on for the national titles, but adding the international athletes spices up the quality a bit. It also puts a bit more pressure on to pick up the prizemoney, as well as the medals” he said today.

The strong development themes of the International Track Meet are again evident in these fields – local athletes Balchin, Moody, Flanagan, McFadzien, Kingsford, and former Cantabrian Harris have all been regular competitors through their formative years at previous versions of New Zealand’s highest profile track and field meeting. Most started as promising youngsters competing against their heroes, some back in the QEII days, and are now establishing themselves as some of NZ’s best athletes, that the aspiring stars of the future look to follow.

Balchin took away the Nick Willis Development Grant in 2010 for winning the under-23 1500m at this meet, and is now one of NZ’s top domestic athletes – he is the national 3000m steeplechase champion, represented New Zealand in the Chiba Ekiden relay squad in Japan in November, and won the Capital Classic 3000m in Wellington last week.  McFadzien also competed at the ITM for the first time in 2010 as a 17-year-old, and last year had a breakthrough season, winning the New Zealand cross country title, finishing third in the Oceania Half Marathon championships, and anchoring the NZ team to 6th place at the Chiba Ekiden Relay. Local prodigy Flanagan competed at the meet for the first time last year, and was awarded the Brian Taylor Memorial Development Grant after bravely chasing Olympian duo Kuijken and van Dalen for third in this race. She has now qualified to represent New Zealand at the World Junior Championships in Oregon later this year.

Tickets are on sale now at City Council Recreation and Leisure Centres, as well as Shoe Clinic in Riccarton Mall and Smith Sport Shoes. They are also available online at internationaltrackmeet.co.nz/tickets.

 

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For further info:                               internationaltrackmeet.co.nz

Media contact:                  Paul Coughlan, paul@internationaltrackmeet.co.nz, 027-2233-028

 

 

“Throwers and NZ Champs for 2014 ITM” 

Wednesday 15th January, 2014                                                                   For immediate release

The International Track Meet announced an exciting draft programme for this year’s meet, with the headline acts being a new Throws Quadrathlon and the hosting of the New Zealand 3000m Championships for both men and women.

The ITM returns to its successful venue of the last two years, the Upper Field at Christ’s College, in the heart of Christchurch. The date will be slightly later this year, on the 22nd of February, and will also commemorate the third anniversary of the 2011 earthquake.

The 2013 International Track Meet had a more traditional multi-event quadrathlon featuring international decathletes and heptathletes. In 2014 this competition will turn to a specific throws focus, to celebrate the recent and historic success on NZ athletes in those disciplines. Much is made of NZ’s prowess in middle distance running, but from Val Young and Les Mills in the ‘60s through Lovegrove and Faumuina to Valerie Adams today, the throwers have been just as successful if not more so. Headlined by Canterbury sensation Tom Walsh, who broke Jacko Gill’s NZ shot put record twice last month, athletes will compete in four events across two days.

The quadrathlon event will start with the hammer throw, along with qualifying rounds for the shot put and discus, on the evening of Friday 21st at Rawhiti Domain, where admission will be free.  The top qualifiers and headline internationals will then progress to the shot put and discus finals at Christ’s College on Saturday 22nd. The final event on the programme in the historic College surroundings will be a 50m sprint – an awesome sight between such big & powerful athletes. Scoring will be based on the IAAF points tables, with the overall winner declared by the best score across the four events.

Middle distance fans will also have plenty to get excited about – NZ’s best domestic athletes will come to Christchurch to contest the New Zealand 3000m championships, which are to be incorporated into the New Balance and Brian Taylor Memorial events for men and women.  Organisers are expecting all of NZ’s top middle distance talent, with some international stars added to spice things up at the front end.  Event director Paul Coughlan said today “With such a strong field on the small grass track, the tactical manoeuvring will be exciting, and having the crowd so close will create an atmosphere like nothing else.”

Tickets are on sale now at City Council Recreation and Leisure Centres, as well as Shoe Clinic in Riccarton Mall and Smith Sport Shoes. They are also available online at internationaltrackmeet.co.nz/tickets.

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For further info:                               internationaltrackmeet.co.nz/contacts

Future Stars take Development Awards

27th February 2013

The International Track Meet announced today that the annual $250 Development Grants – awarded for meritorious performance by developing athletes – have been presented to miler Ben Moynihan, and local 3000m runner Rosa Flanagan.  Both athletes were rewarded for strong performances against international competition at the meet, held earlier this month on the grass track at Christ’s College in front of an enthusiastic crowd of over 3000 +.

Flanagan was one of the standout performances of the meet, at just 17 years of age, taking third place in the Brian Taylor Memorial Womens 3000m behind European junior medallist Susan Kuijken of the Netherlands and NZ Olympian Lucy van Dalen.  The pace set by the two internationals was frenetic, but Flanagan, the national championships silver medallist in this distance last year despite being only 17 at the time, stuck to her task well and was rewarded with the excellent time of 9min37sec.

The Brian Taylor Development Grant was a new award last year, created as a permanent annual tribute to the memory of Christchurch coach and administrator Brian Taylor, who lost his life in the February 2011 earthquake, which also caused the cancellation of the 2011 International Track Meet. Taylor was perhaps best known in coaching terms for his work with female athletes, some of whom competed in the ITM in either the Fountaine Design Women’s 800m won by Australia’s Zoe Buckman, or in the Memorial 3000m event also carrying Taylor’s name, that honoured all victims of the February quake.

The Nick Willis Development Grant has been awarded annually since the meet began in 2009, and the inaugural winner Brendon Blacklaws of Wellington has gone on to success on the university circuit in the USA, at Willis’ own alma mater in Michigan.  The 2010 winner, Daniel Balchin of Otago, competed against Willis and the other international stars in the New Balance Men’s Mile this year, while last year’s recipient Brad Mathas followed last year’s success by winning the national 800m title the following month, and was defeated in this year’s Kalamazoo 800m by England’s Sam Petty, by a margin of just 1/100th of a second.  Olympic silver medallist Willis, a driving force behind the inception of the meet itself following his medal success at Beijing in 2008, has always seen this award as an integral part of the development pathway for young athletes provided by the meet.

Moynihan, like the previous recipients, is one of a strong contingent of young middle distance runners starting to follow in the footsteps of Willis, and of the likes of John Walker & Peter Snell before him. He ran strongly in the New Balance Elite Mile to finish 4th, after going with Willis and the pacemaker in the early laps, before being picked off in the final lap by Hugo Beamish and Alex Parlane. Aucklander Moynihan, the current NZ Junior 1500m champion, also represented New Zealand at the World Junior Championships in Barcelona last year. He lists Willis as his inspiration, and hopes to compete at the Olympic Games in Rio in 2016.

Event organisers were delighted to be able to announce Moynihan and Flanagan as recipients of these awards, and hope to see them use this as a springboard to further success. “We’ve seen some great examples of developing athletes coming from here and progressing to international success, which is exactly what we’re trying to achieve for the sport and the athletes” said trustee Paul Coughlan.

Crowd Support the Winner for International Athletes

3rd February 2013

The common thread from all the stars who performed at International Track Meet at Christ’s College yesterday was that the crowd support was a huge factor.  Shot put star Tom Walsh and miler Nick Willis rode that support to emphatic victories, while other athletes had vociferous backing from the crowd in their battles with international competitors.

Three-time New Zealand champion Tom Walsh will be the happiest of the group today, after stamping his class on the meet in winning the Newstalk ZB Shot Put with a sensational throw of 19.83 metres.  He broke his own Canterbury record by half a metre, and moves ahead of the great Les Mills into second on the NZ alltime rankings, behind only his teenage rival Jacko Gill.  Walsh, the three-time New Zealand senior champion despite still being a young man himself – a month short of his twenty-first birthday – was also just 27cm from achieving the qualifying standard for the IAAF World Championships in Moscow in August. 

Walsh said that the support of the crowd was a huge help in getting him fired up and throwing well. “We don’t get crowds like this at home very often, so having them around was awesome” he said today. Walsh now heads to Australia for two weeks of training with Australian junior record holder Damien Birkinhead, who finished second to Walsh yesterday, and plans to use competitions in Tasmania, Victoria, and Sydney to chase the 20.10m qualifying standard for Moscow.

In other events, Nick Willis gave a superb display of middle distance running in difficult wind conditions, winning the New Balance mile impressively in 4.08.16. He paid tribute to the roar from the 3000-strong crowd, who the organisers brought in across the the 4th lane of the track to provide support. “The atmosphere with that crowd was fantastic, it’s like running in a cauldron” he said.  He said he was very happy with his run, and said it was a good stepping stone to his attempt to post a World Championships qualifying time for the 1500m in Sydney next month.

The other middle distance events were picked up by international athletes, with Lucy van Dalen being outsprinted by Dutch star Susan Kuijken in the Brian Taylor Memorial 3000m, Zoe Buckman of Australia taking out the Fountaine Design Women’s 800m, and Englishman Sam Petty taking the Kalamazoo Men’s 800m in the last stride.  Just 0.01s separated Petty and defending champion Brad Mathas of Wanganui, in a desperate finish after Mathas had led until the final metre of the race before Petty threw himself across the line for the win. 

The 3000m was a similar story – van Dalen led comfortably all the way, but Kuijken swept past in the home stretch, winning in the excellent time of 9min11.59sec. “The crowd was amazing, there was just such a roar – I’m stoked with that, it was a really good race” she said afterwards. Van Dalen now heads back to her Melbourne base to continue preparations for the Australian Grand Prix events coming up.

Performance of the day in the sprint events came from Black Sticks hockey star Anita Punt, who took out a fine 100m-300m double against some of NZ’s top sprinting talent – a performance which points to a huge potential in the sport for the 25-year-old.  The closest finish of the day was in the Christchurch Casino 100m, in which Punt and Canterbury local Kelsey Berryman were credited with the same time, but the photo finish camera awarded the win to Punt by the finest of margins. Her win in the Sharp Copiers 300m was more emphatic but no less impressive, winning by over a second from Auckland’s Zoe Ballantyne and Canterbury’s Fiona Morrison.

Throughout the meet, and sometimes in shared events, a range of international stars were competing in the new Quadrathlon format, contested over 4 events for the men (100m, long jump, shot put, and 800m), with Auckland’s Scott McLaren taking first place with 2813 points ahead of Australian Stephen Cain. Local teenager Jesse Bryant upstaged American star Jake Arnold for 3rd. Russian pole vaulter Max Mischenko posted a creditable performance in 7th, with several excellent young local athletes relishing the chance for some international competition. 

Four competitors took part in the women’s competiton over three events (100m, long jump, and shot put), with the exciting young Auckland heptathlete Portia Bing, who finished 5th in the World Junior Championships in Barcelona last year, taking the win from Australian Brooke Stratton, and Kiwi Olympian Sarah Cowley. American pole vaulter Megan Jamerson, like Mischenko, was also competing in a multi-event programme for the first time, after coming to Christchurch for the Summer Vault event held in the ReStart Mall on Thursday.

Full results are available now on the International Track Meet and Athletics New Zealand websites, go to http://internationaltrackmeet.co.nz/athletes/results-3 for further details.