Tom Walsh has defended his Commonwealth Games crown after an epic battle with fellow Kiwi Jacko Gill on Sunday morning.
In front of a packed out Alexander Stadium against the backdrop of a picturesque setting sun, Walsh sent a firm message to the rest of the field with his opening throw in the final with a 21.98m effort – a throw that was bigger than the personal best of every other finalist.
Gill was quick to make it a Kiwi one-two in the final with his first throw of 20.48m making the New Zealand duo the only ones to pass the 20m mark in the first round.
Walsh stayed in the 21m range with his next two throws but was unable to improve on his initial mark while Gill reduce the deficit slightly with his next effort – a 20.88m throw.
In the third round Nigeria’s Chukwuebuka Enekwechi joined the two Aotearoa representatives in the 20m club but his 20.33m throw wasn’t enough to nudge either of them from their podium perches.
With the third round over, the field of 12 was reduced to eight and Gill upped the pressure with a 21.20m throw to put some further distance between himself and the Nigerian while one of Timaru’s finest again got close to breaking the 22 metre mark with a 21.84m heave.
Gill then pushed the marker again with his next two throws – his final effort of 21.90m surpassing his previous personal best but not enough to catch Walsh’s first mark.
With the true grace of a champion though, Walsh asked for an accelerating clap from the Alexander crowd before he sealed the final with the last throw – a 22.26m effort.
The gold is Walsh’s second after defending his title from 2018 and third Commonwealth Games medal overall having also won a silver in Glasgow eight years ago.
Gill’s silver is his first Commonwealth Games medal in his second appearance after he was forced to miss the Gold Coast Games due to a myocarditis [heart inflammation] diagnosis.