Sam Tanner bolts to national 1500 metre title

A blistering final lap by Sam Tanner helped propel the middle-distance maestro to his fourth national 1500m title with a typically dominant display to crown the final day of the National Championships.

The all-time New Zealand number two for the metric mile cruised around the first couple of laps before advancing to the front with around 600m to go at Newtown Park in Wellington.

The 23-year-old Waikato Bay of Plenty athlete then put on the after burners at the bell to rapidly accelerate away from the remainder of the field and ease to victory to add to the national mile and 3000m crowns he has also snared during a stellar domestic campaign.

The 2023 World Championships semi-finalist registered 4:05.80 for the win ahead of the Canterbury duo Russell Green, who upgraded on the bronze medal he took in this event last year to take silver in 4:07.50, and David Lee (4:07.73), who added bronze to the NZ mile silver he collected in January.

“I just relaxed for the first couple of laps and then moved with 600m to go, I took the lead and send it hard for the last 400m,” said Tanner of his 51.6 final lap. “I’m happy to win another national title.”

Rebekah Aitkenhead capped a hugely satisfying domestic season by fending off the challenge of Laura Nagel to claim her maiden national senior women’s 1500m title in a captivating showdown.

Aitkenhead, 30, who edged Nagel in a thrilling battle for the New Zealand mile title in January, seized control of the race down the back straight on the penultimate lap and despite the best efforts of Nagel, the Otago athlete would not be denied her win.

The gold medallist posted an impressive 4:11.65 – within 0.16 of her lifetime best – to win by a margin of 0.30 from Nagel, who put up a brave defence of her title. Brigid Denney, the senior women’s 5000m title, crowned an excellent track campaign by winning bronze in 4:15.23.

Aitkenhead, who like Tanner is coached by Craig Kirkwood, said: “I did plan to sit for at least a 1km, but we switched off too much on that second lap, so I made the decision if I was going to go, I was going to go from there.

“It was a long way to go from, but I know all the girls behind me have really good kicks, so I tried and take the sting out of them and close as fast as I could.

“I am stoked. I think today was the first time I thought I don’t have to win this. It was more, if I don’t win this, it is fine too. Taking the pressure off helped me run a bit smoother.”

Jacko Gill defended his shot put title at the national championships in Wellington, pipping Tom Walsh for the second straight year. Newtown Park, Wellington, Sat 16th March 2024. Photo supplied.

Connor Bell claimed a fourth successive national senior men’s discus title with a best of 57.83m.

Georgia Hulls claimed a fourth straight national senior women’s 200m title with an accomplished and decisive victory in 23.24 (0.2).

After a season of mixed results the 24-year-old Hawke’s Bay Gisborne sprinter turned on the style and held a clear lead entering the home straight. From there she extended her advantage to finish 0.53 ahead of national record-holder Rosie Elliott (Canterbury) with Brooke Somerfield, the 2023 silver medallist, taking bronze in 23.85. Portia Bing the national 400m champion and 100m bronze medallist was fourth in 24.02.

New Zealand decathlon champion Angus Lyver stormed to a stunning victory in the senior men’s 200m final, defeating pre-race favourite Lex Revell-Lewis (Auckland) by a 0.10 margin in 21.09 to produce one of the shock performances of the championships.

Douw Botes finished ahead of Angus Lyver to successfully defend his senior men’s javelin title with a best of 63.76m.

The race walkers provided some morning fireworks as Laura Langley hacked more than three minutes from her lifetime best to take the senior women’s 10,000m race walking title and Jonah Cropp set men’s national U19/U20 records and dipped under the World U20 Championship performance standard for the 10,000m race walk.

National 200m Para records were set in the heats of the senior women’s 200m as Anna Grimaldi lowered her seven-year-old national T47 record clocking a time of 25.95 (1.6) and in the following heat Danielle Aitchison set a national T36 record of 28.19 (-0.1).

The 22-year-old Waikato Bay of Plenty sprinter, who lowered the world 100m T36 mark on Friday ran a brilliant race and came within 0.02 of completing a world record double, tantalisingly close to the five-month-old mark set by Yiting Shi of China.

Lauren Bruce claimed a hat-trick of national senior women’s hammer titles, powering the 4kg implement out to a best of 65.06m.

Imogen Skelton (Auckland) picked up her first national senior women’s high jump title with a best of 1.85m to edge Keeley O’Hagan, the three times former New Zealand champion on countback.

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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