21 Apr 2024

Maddi Wesche takes silver medal at Diamond League meet in China

3:28 pm on 21 April 2024
New Zealand's Maddison-Lee Wesche competes at the 2024 World Athletics Indoor Championships, Glasgow

New Zealand's Maddison-Lee Wesche competes at the 2024 World Athletics Indoor Championships, Glasgow Photo: PHOTOSPORT

New Zealand athlete Maddi Wesche has continued her relentless ascent on the global shot put stage with a silver medal at the opening Diamond League meet in China.

Wesche achieved a lifetime best distance of 19.63m in her sixth and final throw in Xiamen on Saturday night to place second in a tight contest for gold.

China's Lijiao Gong won with a 19.72m best while Jackson Chase of the United States was third with 19.62m.

It was another improvement for 24-year-old Wesche, who was included this week in the 15-strong New Zealand team to compete at the Paris Olympics, where she has the form to challenge for a medal.

Her previous personal best of 19.62m was set at last month's world indoor championships and she carried that form to China, where four of her throws were 19.44m or better.

Wesche has made incremental improvements over the last three years in the wake of the retirement of Dame Valerie Adams, whose national record stands at 21.24m.

Aucklander Wesche was sixth at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 (18.98m best), third at the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games (19.03m) and seventh at last year's outdoor world championships in Hungary (19.51m).

Two other Olympic-bound athletes - Hamish Kerr and Tori Peeters - were also in action in Xiamen.

Hamish Kerr on his way to winning the high jump at the 2024 World Athletics Indoor Championships, Glasgow, Scotland

Hamish Kerr on his way to winning the high jump at the 2024 World Athletics Indoor Championships, Glasgow, Scotland Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Kerr was third in the men's high jump, well below his best with a 2.24m clearance.

He was was beaten by American winner Shelby McEwan, who headed off Qatar's Mutaz Essa Barshim on a countback after both cleared 2.27m.

Javelin thrower Tori Peeters was also below her best in what was a non-Diamond League event.

Peeters' best throw of 55.20m didn't go near her season-best 58.19m.

Tori Peeters.


China's Dai Qianqian won with 61.25m.

Pole vault world record

Armand Duplantis put down a marker ahead of this year's Olympics as the Swede broke his own pole vault world record with a 6.24m effort.

Duplantis bettered his previous mark of 6.23m set at the Eugene Diamond League finale in September, clearing the bar with ease before leaping up off the sponge mat below and racing off in celebration at his first outdoor event of the year.

It was the eighth time that Duplantis broke the world record and the 24-year-old, who was the only man to clear six metres at the Egret Stadium, said he could do even better.

Sweden's Armand Duplantis reacts as he sets a world record in the men's pole vault final during the World Athletics Championships 2022.

Photo: AFP

The Olympic and two-time world outdoor champion had added a second world indoor title to his impressive resume in March, and he is set to head into his second Games in July and August as the firm favourite.

American Sam Kendricks, who was second with a best effort of 5.82m, heaped praise on the Louisiana-born Duplantis.

"He's got God's hand on his back," Hendricks said.

"I've been a champion before. 'Mondo' has been my vice-champion. I've seen him from (when he was) a 14-year-old come all the way up.

"I'm ever joyous to be second behind a world record-holder. I know he works so hard. He goes all over the place and he's becoming the true champion we all want him to be."

In the women's 200m Australian Torrie Lewis enjoyed a stunning Diamond League debut, as the 19-year-old beat a strong field of American rivals that included Sha'Carri Richardson to claim gold with an effort of 22.96 from lane nine.

Richardson, winner of the 200m bronze at last year's world championships, finished second in 22.99 ahead of her compatriots Tamara Clark, Anavia Battle and Twanisha Terry.

In the men's 100m event Christian Coleman began his Diamond League title defence with a solid sprint of 10.13 seconds to beat fellow American Fred Kerley who came in at 10.17.

The Diamond League resumes next week with the Shanghai meeting, which returns to the calendar this year with a change of location to the neighbouring city of Suzhou due to a stadium renovation.

This year's calendar features 15 meetings, including 10 ahead of the July 26-August 11 Olympics, with the season finale in Brussels on September. 13-14.

- RNZ/Reuters

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