New Zealand’s Tom Walsh, the bronze medallist at the last world indoor championships two years ago, had the competition of his life as he produced five efforts better than anyone else could manage, winning with an Oceania record of 21.78m in the sixth and final round.
“I went into the circle with nothing to lose. I’d been holding on for the whole competition but just felt free,” said Walsh, who was having his first indoor competition of the winter.
After a first round of relatively modest efforts, which saw Romania’s Andrei Gag as the surprise leader with his season’s best of 20.89m, Walsh found his rhythm.
Throwing 15th in a field of 19, he saw his second attempt fly out to an Oceania indoor record of 21.60m.
As many of the rest of the putters struggled to even go over 20 metres, Walsh putted 21.40m in the third round and then reached a career best of 21.64m in the fourth round, improving his own Oceania absolute record by two centimetres.
Still nobody else could get close to Walsh but Croatia’s Filip Mihaljevic did move from fourth to third with 20.87m in the penultimate round, just two centimetres behind Gag’s opening distance.
Under the new innovations introduced for this championship, only four men participated in the sixth round and both Mihaljevic and then Gag fouled their final attempts, but secured surprise bronze and silver medals respectively.
However, Walsh was not done.
Knowing that he had got his county’s first men’s world indoor title – fellow putter and Walsh’s former training partner Valerie Adams being three times a winner under cover – Walsh glided across the circle before unleashing an effort that dropped at another Oceania record, 21.78m.
Earlier in the competition, there were some notable names that didn’t not progress beyond the third round, the cut-off point for additional throws, including Poland’s Michal Haratyk, Czech Republic’s Tomas Stanek and US champion Kurt Roberts.
All had thrown over 21 metres in recent weeks but on this occasion could not even get further than 19-and-a-half metres.
Phil Minshull for the IAAF