General News

Ayla and Jacko Gill complete stellar sibling double

Jacko Gill, New Zealand's first male World Junior gold medallist (Getty Images)Jacko Gill, New Zealand's first male World Junior gold medallist (Getty Images) © Copyright

The Gill family of New Zealand, Jacko and Ayla, set a new standard for sibling success here in Moncton, with a pair of results unrivaled since Wes and Allyson Felix competed in 2002 in Kingston.

While the Felixes ran in the same event, the 200m, where Wes took bronze (behind Usain Bolt) and Allyson finished fifth (behind Sanya Richards). Depending on how the places are compared, the Gills' 1-6 finishes in the men's shot put (Jacko) and women's hammer throw (Ayla) may be superior.

Both Gills belong to the same club, the Takapuna Amateur Athletic and Harrier Club in Auckland. Jacko shares a coach with World Champion shot putter Valerie Vili. Ayla came to Moncton after a full NCAA season throwing the hammer for Southern Methodist University in the USA, where she has competed for two seasons and is coached by Dave Wollman, coach of throwers like Libor Charfrietag and Aleksander Tammert.

Jacko, the younger Gill, was a complete surprise as the shot put champion, the lean and relatively slight 15-year-old. "I barely qualified for the final," observed Jacko. "Now I'm going home with the gold. I'm pleased to be able to pull this off, since I'm one of the smaller guys in the field." With the potential for two more World Junior Championships before he's done, Jacko may yet improve on his new ninth-place position on the junior list.

Ayla was similarly pleased with her improvement. "I came in ranked 24th and I finished 6th," she observed after the Hammer Throw final. "I'm really happy with that, and I was close to my PB." Unlike Jacko, who opened with a 20.24m mark which would have stood as a winner and followed with his winning 20.76m toss, Ayla opened with two fouls before throwing 56.57m and 57.28m. Her complete series was X, X, 56.57, 57.28, X, 53.39.

Ayla was the second Gill to complete, but insisted her brother's surprise victory added no extra pressure. "My brother's a freak," she grinned. "There's no topping him. I'm so proud of him, he worked so hard for this."

Parker Morse for the IAAF