A who’s who of New Zealand sprinting will be running at the Porritt Classic in Hamilton tonight, once again making it one of the feature athletics meets on the national calendar.
The men’s and women’s 100m and 200m sprints are shaping up as the highlight of the Porritt Stadium-held event - generally recognised by athletes as the best of the three Black Singlet Series meets.
The men’s 100m will feature some of the country’s best sprinters while the women’s race sees the top four nationally race head to head.
Dunedin’s Chris Donaldson, who is the Porritt Classic 100m record holder with a time of 10.27s, is top seed but Counties-Manukau’s Craig Bearda, currently one of the fastest men in New Zealand, is expected to mount a strong challenge.
The New Zealand men’s 100m relay team of David Falealili, James Dolphin, James Mortimer and Carl Van Der Speck, all from Auckland, will contest the relays tonight although Dolphin and Mortimer will not race the 100m.
Auckland’s Anna Smythe, the fastest woman in the country, tops the women’s race. Tokoroa’s Monique Williams, who is racing the meet for North Harbour, is rated .01s faster than current New Zealand champion Chantal Brunner. Rounding out the top four is North Harbour’s April Brough. These four women make up New Zealand’s 4x100m squad and will race the national men’s team in tonight’s opening event.
The four women will also contest the 200m.
Dolphin will race the men’s 200m alongside Hamilton’s New Zealand secondary school champion Daniel Stevenson and cancer recoverer Jeffrey Thumath. Matt Brown is expected to vie with Dolphin for first place.
The 1500m fields tonight have blown out with 70 athletes expected to race.
Twenty-five will start the men’s race with Napier’s Jason Stewart expected to prevail.
The women’s 1500m has 14 in the field with Hamilton City Hawks’ Camille Buscomb looking to challenge close rival Kellie Palmer (Auckland).
The men’s and women’s secondary school 1500m feature 36 competitors.
One of the meet’s big attractions will be Beatrice Faumuina, who is hoping to advance her good form of late in the discus.
But as it is early in the season and with easterly winds forecast, Faumuina and Hamilton javelin thrower Stuart Farquhar aren’t expected to throw long distances.
There will be one Vili on show but it won’t be Commonwealth champion Valerie. Husband Bertrand, competing for New Caledonia, will appear in the discus. He has thrown more than 60m in France recently.
Jessica Penney, fifth in the world in junior long jump, Angela McKee, Commonwealth Games high jump bronze medalist, Keshia Grant, national women’s javelin champion, and Keri Tongalea, best men’s discus and shot putter in New Zealand, are among the other stars in a field of 165 athletes.
Meanwhile, Nick Kalivati was the standout performer at Saturday’s Waikato-Bay of Plenty athletics meet in Hamilton. Kalivati, a visitor from the Valley’s United Club in north Wellington, beat Hamilton’s Daniel Stevenson in both the 100m and 200m races.
Te Aroha’s Zoe Martin was the fastest in both the women’s 100m and 200m and threw 7.48m in the shot.