Tokyo 2020 Olympics: Kiwifruit Tom Walsh wins bronze in men’s shot put final as Jacko Gill finishes ninth
Tom Walsh wins the bronze medal in the shot put final. Video / Sky Sport
Tom Walsh moved from the edge of elimination to the Olympic podium again.
The Kiwi won a second consecutive bronze medal in the shot put this afternoon as the top three from Rio all repeated their exploits in Tokyo.
Third place completed a dramatic turnaround for Walsh, whose Olympic dream seemed to have ended in heartbreak during Tuesday night’s qualifying.
But after finally counting his third and essential qualifying effort – after an initial foul was successfully examined, Walsh joked that it took years of his life – the 29-year-old enjoyed a final a lot. happier at the olympic stadium.
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“It’s awesome,” Walsh said, fighting back tears. “The last 18 months, for everyone, it hasn’t been easy. And standing here now with the flag on your back is pretty cool.”
His obvious pride was understandable, given that Walsh’s 22.47m mark improved his performance for the bronze medal in Rio by 1.11m. Unfortunately for the Kiwi, however, no one in the 12-man centerpiece seemed able to catch world record holder and defending champion Ryan Crouser.
Five of the American’s six throws would have been enough for gold, with the official 23.30m winning mark coming from a triumphant final effort.
Walsh had to fight for the money with fellow American Joe Kovacs, who broke up with a fourth attempt of 22.65m. But Walsh was more than happy with his best final distance of the season – 59cm ahead of fourth place – and a bronze medal.
“I stayed in the fight,” he said. “I felt at home there, which was really a nice feeling to have again, as it’s been quite a while since I’ve had this.”
He certainly didn’t feel that during his tumultuous qualifying and Walsh must have been happy today to just see the white flag after his first throw, a warm-up distance of 21.09m.
Crouser’s opening effort, on the other hand, was sent with some ease to an Olympic record of 22.83m. The favorite broke that mark two more times and ultimately only fell within 7cm of his own world record, leaving Kovacs and Walsh to catch up.
“The difference between 22.50 and 23 is so small – the little things that Ryan understands and Joe and I aren’t quite,” Walsh said. “But we do sport to push and hunt and try to find those little pieces. We’re not far off.
“We pushed Ryan and we both wanted a different colored medal, but I’m happy with my performance, the distance and I guess the result.
“Of course a gold medal would feel a lot better, but I gave myself a chance.”
That luck started with a powerful 22.17m second throw, with Walsh raising his arms and shouting “Tommy is coming!” as he left the circle.
He saw the dreaded red flag after his third attempt, however, and gave the impression that his personal best of 22.90m could have surpassed him.
But Walsh still had a big roar, and while Kovacs solidified his grip on money, the Kiwi saved his best for last.
Her achievement was acclaimed in the stands by Valerie Adams and Maddison-Lee Wesche, and like the women’s final, New Zealand again had double representation in one of the main track and field events.
But as Walsh tied Adams with bronze, Jacko Gill couldn’t quite replicate Wesche’s sixth place as he recorded a better distance of 20.71m to finish ninth for the second consecutive Olympics.
“I expected a medal, I just didn’t do enough,” said Gill. “I hope I will get to this point soon.”