Hammer thrower Julia Ratcliffe sets Porritt Classic meet alight with national record


Julia Ratcliffe was in sizzling form at the Porritt Classic with a national record in the hammer throw.

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Julia Ratcliffe was in sizzling form at the Porritt Classic with a national record in the hammer throw.

Dame Valerie Adams made another stride down the comeback trail, but it was her national hammer throw team-mate Julia Ratcliffe who grabbed the headlines at the Porritt Classic athletics meet in Hamilton on Saturday.

Ratcliffe, who hails from the Waikato, produced a stunning series of throws in the hammer to twice break her own New Zealand record of 71.39 metres and come within 15cm of the automatic qualifying mark for the Tokyo Olympics.

The 26-year-old opened with a stunning 71.69m and closed a fabulous series, with five of her six attempts sailing past the 70m mark, with a sensational 72.35m to improve her PB, and national record, by just under a metre (96cm).

It was also an all-comers and Oceania record for Ratcliffe as she hauled in valuable rankings points under the new IAAF system. South Canterbury’s Lauren Bruce was second with 67.44m and Aussie Alexandra Hulley third with 67.15.

READ MORE: Dame Val nails Tokyo qualifying

Adams would have been content with her winning throw of a season-best 18.81m in the women’s shot put, improving on her Olympic qualifying throw of 18.65m set at the Potts Classic a few weeks back.

The 35-year-old double Olympic champion, working back to her competitive best after the birth of her second child, had a steady series of 17.97m, 17.90, 18.44, 18.21, 18.81 and 18.02.

That 19-metre mark will be her next target as she continues through the New Zealand season at the Sir Graeme Douglas international meet in Auckland next Sunday.

Dame Valerie Adams produced a season's best of 18.81m to win the Porritt Classic shot put.

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Dame Valerie Adams produced a season’s best of 18.81m to win the Porritt Classic shot put.

Former world champion Tom Walsh would also have been happy enough with his winning toss of 21.35m in the men’s shot put as he too works back to form off a heavy block of training.

The Cantab had three throws over 21 metres for the competition and finished with his best mark of the night after setting the standard early with 21.27m in the second round. He threw 21.10m to win at the Potts.

Walsh’s training partner Ryan Ballantyne finished second with the best throw of his young career, a PB (by 40cm) of 19.64m.

Two-time Olympic medallist Nick Willis showed his class in the men’s 1500m by kicking clear of the field in the final lap to romp home in 3min 46.71sec as he attempts to secure his Tokyo qualification by competing in a quartet of events over the Kiwi summer.

He finished well clear of Napier’s Eric Speakman who grabbed second in 3:49.24.

The women’s 1500m produced another exciting duel between New Zealand’s two best middle-distance athletes, with Katherine Camp (4:15.09) finishing comfortably clear of fellow Cantab Angie Petty (4:16.20).

Young sprinting sensation Edward Osei-Nketia also had a good meet, doing the double in the 100m (10.81s) and 200m (21.86) and then anchoring his 4×100 relay team to victory at the finish.