5 Aug 2021

'Really happy' shot put champ Tom Walsh celebrates Olympics bronze

From Checkpoint, 5:36 pm on 5 August 2021

Tom Walsh - the builder from Timaru - is now the proud owner of two Olympic bronze medals.

Walsh heaved a 22.47 throw to put himself on the podium, alongside Americans Ryan Crouser and Joe Kovacs.

The trio making Olympic history for earning the same result in the same event in back to back Olympics.

Walsh told Checkpoint it was a proud moment.

"I think everyone has been through so much in the last two years, and to know that I came to the Olympics in good form, in good shape and probably in [personal best] shape. It means a lot and we've had to go through some times of second guessing yourselves and wondering a few things.

"And to come here and perform so well, I'm really happy."

Tom Walsh, Bronze, Mens Shotput Final. Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Wednesday 04 August 2021. Mandatory credit: © John Cowpland / www.photosport.nz

Photo: Photosport Ltd 2021/ John Cowpland

The big challenge was a lack of international competition in the year leading up to the Olympics, due to Covid-19.

"That was one of the big question marks. That was one of the reasons why I left New Zealand in early May this year to come over to the northern hemisphere and to get some competitions in.

"To the athletes who didn't have that option and did extremely well from New Zealand, I couldn't imagine doing it. I know how nervous I was, even having some competitions under the belt and kind of knowing where I was sitting.

"For me that is one of my 'whys' - I do the sport to compete at the top level as much as I can, and to have that taken away last year especially was very tough."

The medal result at Tokyo was the same as in Rio, with the US' Ryan Crouser taking gold, fellow American Joe Kovacs winning silver and Walsh winning bronze.  

Walsh said between the three of them, they know they will be in world-record shape "when it comes to the big dance".

"So you've just got to show up, put your big boy pants on and get your work done. 

"I gave myself a chance to throw really well. I had three good cracks at it and look, my timing was just not quite bang on and good enough to win. But at least I gave myself a chance to have a really good throw.

"Coming away with a bronze, yes, it is a little bit frustrating, but also I'm very proud of myself and very proud of the team around me, and how we how we got here from what the last 18 months, two years have been."

And in case you were wondering, the breakfast of champions includes "tried and true" scrambled eggs, pita bread rather than toast, some sausages and bacon on the side.

"A pretty Kiwi breakfast, a little bit of fruit, nothing too special," Walsh said.

"The tricky thing is when you're in a dining hall that has probably every delicacy in the world, it's sometimes a bit overwhelming."

And for Walsh he has had a room to himself as it is the last week of the games, and about half the New Zealand team has left.

"The beds are pretty small, but I've pushed them together, so I'm kind of sleeping on half of one so I don't roll off the other side and hurt myself.

"These are the cardboard beds and they seem to be holding my weight up alright, so I think they're okay."

Tom Walsh at the Tokyo Olympics.


Walsh said he will be celebrating with a quiet night on one of the team's balconies overlooking the harbour, and "just chewing the fat".

"That was one pretty cool thing, all three of us went around the track together pretty slowly, as our lap of honour. It was a pretty cool moment just to walk around the stadium and have that 10 or 15 minutes to think about what we've all achieved."

And yes, "no doubt" Walsh will be back for another Olympics.