22 Feb 2019

Tom Walsh puts crosshairs on shot put world record

9:27 am on 22 February 2019

Shot put champion Tom Walsh has the world record in his sights after claiming the highest honour in New Zealand sport.

Tom Walsh at the Potts Classic 2019.

Tom Walsh tracks the progress of the shot. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Walsh took out the supreme prize at Thursday night's Halberg Awards in Auckland, having won the sportsman award for a second consecutive year.

Walsh was hugely successful last year, winning the world indoor title, Commonwealth Games gold and the prestigious Diamond League crown.

Those efforts helped him beat out sportswoman of the year Lisa Carrington, the national women's sevens team and para skiing champion Adam Hall to be named New Zealand's best in sport for 2018.

The 26-year-old from Timaru said it was a special achievement, but one he hadn't pursued as such.

"The things I want to do is break the world record, win Olympic golds and win Olympic champs, that's what want to do.

"This is just by product of the things I've been able to do over the last few years."

Walsh hasn't been the only one to achieve much success over that period.

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Tom Walsh after claiming the supreme award at the Halbergs for 2018. Photo: Photosport

Another world championship gold and two bronze medals helped canoe racing champion Carrington take out sportswoman of the year for the third straight year.

As she was clear to point out, though, her continued efforts didn't come without assistance.

"It's been a big year and I'm grateful I can keep improving and I also think I'm lucky I've got really good support people in my coach and the wider support team. Also the girls I paddle with on the lake.

"I guess I'm in a really privileged position."

Carrington missed out on a second award as the women's sevens side won the hotly contested team of the year award.

They edged their male counterparts, who also won a world title and gold at the Commonwealth Games, thanks largely to a phenomenal winning streak which has now reached 48 matches.

But captain Sarah Hirini said they wanted to raise the bar even higher.

"We're at the top at the moment, but we still want to get better.

"We know women's sevens is still on the rise and we want to take this game to a whole 'nother level.

"It means we have to try and be better as individual athletes every single day and [that] just means our team are going to be even better when we get to play again."

New Zealand Women celebrate their win with a haka performance over France during the Day 2 of the Women's Fast Four Tournament 2019 in Hamilton.

The New Zealand women's sevens team perform a haka in Hamilton. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Alpine skier Adam Hall was another one with reason to smile, his gold and bronze medals at the Paralympic Winter Games landing him para athlete of the year.

He described how the award had seen him come full circle.

"The Halberg Foundation helped fund my first snowboard, which for me gave me the independence I was looking for as a little boy looking for those athletes dreams really.

"That was the turning [point] in my career to give me that independence I was looking for and my love of snow sports to continue on."

It was only fitting, though, that the last word of the night went to Walsh.

And while a first Olympic gold medal at Tokyo next year was the major goal, he said that wouldn't stop him from chasing another piece of history in 2019.

"To break the world record is incredibly tough because it was done in the 90s and they may had a little bit of help.

"Men's shot put at the moment is the strongest it's been in history, we just haven't had that big, big throw.

"If I don't do it someone else is going to try and do it, so I've got to try."

A big man, with big, big ambitions.