25 Jul 2012


11:35 am on 25 July 2012

New Zealand has a rich history in athletics at the Olympic Games - in particular, middle-distance running and walking - while other successes have been recent including the shot put, where gold medalist Valerie Adams dominates.


Middle-distance runner Jack Lovelock won gold in the 1500 metres at the Games in Berlin in 1936, while Peter Snell - widely regarded as the country's greatest Olympian - won the 800m and 1500m events at the 1964 Games in Tokyo. John Walker also claimed the 1500m Olympic title in Montreal in 1976.

This year, 11 New Zealanders will compete in track and field in London, including one of the country's strongest medal hopes, shot put star Valerie Adams.

It's the third time Adams is competing at an Olympic Games and is the reigning Olympic champion and current world No 1. A three-time world champion, she won gold at the 2006 and 2010 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne and Delhi respectively, and currently holds the world indoor, Continental Cup and Diamond League titles.

The 27-year-old Aucklander has been ranked world No 1 in the shot put since 2006. Her main rival in London will be world No 2 Nadzeya Ostapchuk from Belarus.

Wellington's Nick Willis is also taking part in his third Olympics and will compete in the 1500m. He finished third at the Beijing Games in 2008, but was promoted to second after the winner, Bahrain's Rashid Ramzi, tested positive for a blood boosting drug and was disqualified.

Willis won gold for the event at the 2006 Commonwealth Games and bronze at the 2010 Commonwealth Games. The 29-year-old had planned to compete in the 1500m and 5000m, but will concentrate on the shorter race - his preferred event.

Lucy Van Dalen, 23, will compete in the women's 1500m event and has the potential to make the top 16. Adrian Blincoe, 32, was selected for his second Olympics to compete in the 5000m, but had to pull out due to an ankle injury a week before the Games began.

Decathlete Brent Newdick, who won silver at the 2010 Commonwealth Games and heptathlete Sarah Cowley are competing in the multi-discipline events, in which New Zealand has yet to win a medal.

Though New Zealand has never won an Olympic medal in javelin, there are strong hopes for Stuart Farquhar, who won silver in the 2010 Commonwealth Games and has won the New Zealand javelin throw title 12 times. The 30-year-old is competing in his third Olympics. Earlier this year, he threw a personal best of 86.31m at a meet in Japan.


Walker Harry Kerr was the first New Zealander to win an Olympic medal, competing at the 1908 Olympics in London with the Australasia team. Despite nearly missing his call for the start of the 3500m walk final, he came away with the bronze. Since Kerr's success, Norman Read has won gold in the 50km event at the 1956 Games in Melbourne, while Craig Barratt has represented the country in race walking at the Olympics in Atlanta (1996), Sydney (2000) and Athens (2004).

Quentin Rew hopes to continue New Zealand's proud walking tradition in London in the 50km walk - the longest event on the Olympic programme, taking at least four hours to complete. The 28-year-old was a middle-distance runner for about 10 years before an ankle injury forced him to retire in 2007. Following a year off, he took up walking, as it was the closest sport to running and the best chance of competing at an Olympics. He qualified earlier in 2012 at a race in Slovakia.


Kimberley Smith is taking part in her third Olympics and in the marathon event for the first time. The 30-year-old competed at the 2004 Athens Olympics in the 10,000m and in the 2008 Beijing Olympics in the 5000m and 10,000m. She currently holds three track, six road and three indoor New Zealand records and is ranked 18th in the world for marathon running.


Valerie Adams (shot put), Sarah Cowley (heptathlon), Lucy Van Dalen (1500m), Stuart Farquhar (javelin), Brent Newdick (decathlon), Quentin Rew (walking), Kimberley Smith (marathon), Nick Willis (1500m).

Some information sourced from www.olympic.org.nz

Where and when

Athletics: Olympic Stadium at Olympic Park from 3 to 12 August.

Race Walks: Events take place in The Mall, central London, beginning with the men's 20km event on 4 August. The women's 20km and men's 50km events are on 11 August.

Marathon: Held in central London. Women's: 5 August; Men's 12 August.