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Crouser trumps NZ's Walsh in shot put

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 26/02/2017 Angelo Risso

Ryan Crouser of the United States © Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images Ryan Crouser of the United States Kiwi shot putter Tom Walsh has thrice smashed his New Zealand residents record at the Auckland Track Challenge but still couldn't do enough to win.

Throwing 21.46m in last week's Big Shot in Christchurch, the 24-year-old Olympic bronze-medallist threw 21.58m, 21.67m and 21.80m at Sunday's meet in Auckland.

Yet despite extending his own residents record, Walsh still finished well behind American Olympic gold-medallist Ryan Crouser, who broke the 22-metre mark four times.

The 24-year-old Oregon native, who set a New Zealand all-comers record in Christchurch with 22.05m, closed out with two 22.15m bombs to win.

Aucklander Jacko Gill again finished third, throwing a near-personal best of 20.92m.

Walsh said his throw was encouragingly good for this time of the year, with the Cantabrian still in the early stages of preparation for August's world championships.

He'll also be a red hot favourite for next month's national championships in Hamilton.

"My coach and I had a bet that if I threw over 21.60m, he'd buy me five rounds of golf," Walsh said.

"To throw 21.80m with one comp in the summer to go, it's pretty good."

Crouser, meanwhile, was ecstatic with his display despite falling well short of his 22.52m gold-medal throw in Rio last year.

He has spent much of the northern winter bulking up in the gym, and is yet to add speed or finesse to his bombs.

"This is probably my most consistent meet outside of the Olympics, and it's still really early for me so I'm really happy with where I'm at," Crouser said.

"I just knew I was stronger than last year but the technique isn't quite there, so right now I'm really surprised that I'm going 22m.

"That, for February, is unbelievable."

Crouser and Walsh have struck up a healthy on-field rivalry since Rio, with Walsh claiming victory in September's Diamond League and Crouser winning on Sunday.

The 201cm American said the pair were friends outside the circle, and were likely to push each other towards Randy Barnes' 23.12m world record.

"He can throw a monster when the pressure's on, so you can never really beat Tom until that last throw is done," Crouser said.

"Yeah, 23m is definitely possible this year and before 2020 I'm sure the record will fall."

Australian Damien Birkenhead finished fourth with 20.54m, while Ryan Whiting and Ryan Ballantyne rounded out the meet with 19.93m and 16.37m respectively.

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