Eleven World Para Athletics Championships qualifying performances and nine New Zealand Para athletics records highlighted a very successful Jennian Homes 2017 NZ Track and Field Championships in Hamilton.
Rio 2016 Paralympic silver medallist Holly Robinson was an easy winner in the Para Women’s javelin event, throwing 42.54m, just 0.47m short of F46 World Record and a World Para Athletics Championships A qualifier. The Otago athlete then backed up the following day in the Senior Women’s event with a throw of 41.52m for 5th placing, another A qualifier.
Anna Grimaldi, long jump gold medallist in Rio, finished fifth in a very competitive Senior Women’s Long Jump with a best of 5.58m, just 0.04m short of her winning jump in Rio and a B qualifier for the London 2017 World Para Athletics Championship. Representing Otago, Grimaldi also won the Para Women's Long Jump and 200m titles. Her 200m time of 26.34 would have been a NZ record if not for slightly too much wind.
The Para Men’s 800m was one of the most exciting events in the Para events at the championships with three athletes breaking NZ records. Winner William Stedman (T36) ran 2:11.68, faster than his Rio bronze medal performance and a B qualifier for World Para Athletics Championships for the Canterbury runner. Sunil Fernandez-Ritchie (Waikato BOP) 2:18.04 in the T20 and Guy Harrison (Hawkes Bay Gisborne) 2:47.27 in the T35 classifications also set fresh NZ records. Harrison also broke the T35 NZ record in the 1500m.
Keegan Pitcher (Auckland), just classified the week prior to the championships, won the Para Men's 200m in a T36 NZ record which was also a London B qualifier and was second in the 400m and 800m races, just behind Stedman.
Jack Lewer (Manawatu Wanganui) set a New Zealand record in the T20 shot put in the Senior Men’s event finishing in eighth place with 10.47m, smashing the old record by a massive 1.26m.
The Para Men's Shot Put saw two another New Zealand records broken – Aodhan Hamilton (Waikato Bay of Plenty) increasing his own F36 record by 0.11m to 9.81 and Ben Tuimaseve (Auckland) increasing the F37 record by 0.22m to 10.02.
Jaydon Ahi-Perez, a newcomer to the sport from Auckland, also broke the F37 record by a massive 8.31m in the Para Men's Discus event.
The numbers of Para athletes competing at the championships continue to rise, with 21% more than the previous year.
Leading Para athletes are aiming for the World Para Athletics Championships in London in July this year.