Newdick for Kiwis at CWG

Athletics: Newdick nails Games spot with two big leaps

By Terry Maddaford

Disproving the “white men can’t jump” theory, 20-year-old Aucklander Brent Newdick leapt into the New Zealand Commonwealth Games team with an outstanding decathlon performance at the national track and field championships at QEII Stadium on Saturday.

Always thereabouts in his chase for the 7500 points he needed to win a place in Melbourne, Newdick nailed his spot on the back of two great leaps - a personal best 1.96m high jump and an equally impressive best 4.70m pole vault.

With big points banked in those two disciplines, Newdick cruised through the last two events, the javelin and 1500m, to finish with 7682 points and making selection a certainty.

His solid all-round performance also helped drag his Auckland North team-mate Jordan Vandermade to within 95 points of the Games target.

But Athletics New Zealand performance director Eric Hollingsworth was unconcerned that 18-year-old Vandermade had missed that mark.

“He has again proved he is one of the best all-round athletes of his age in the world,” said Hollingsworth.

"It is more important at this stage in his career that he competes against those of his own age, which he will do at this year’s world junior championships.

“As far as Brent is concerned, it was important he nailed a good one in the high jump. He has often lost valuable points by struggling to clear 1.88m.”

Multi-events, included in these championships rather than being held as separate championships in empty stadiums later in the season, produced the outstanding results, with heptathletes Rebecca Wardell and Sarah Cowley both edging past the 5700-point target with gutsy efforts.

Working together in the gut-wrenching finale 800m and needing times of 2m 21s (Wardell) and 2m 17s (Cowley), the pre-race plan worked to perfection, giving Wardell all the incentive she needs to chase the 5900 to 6000 points she knows she needs to become competitive internationally.

Elsewhere, the final day of the championships were business as usual, or at least as expected.

Kate McIlroy was a class above the rest in the 3000m steeplechase despite what she described as “terrible technique” in clearing all hurdles apart from the water jump.

Her winning, and record-breaking, 9m 47.99s in only her second attempt at the event was enough to suggest she can get under 9m 40s in the Australian championships this week and then a few seconds faster at the Games.

Chantal Brunner won the 200m to complete a comprehensive treble with both sprints and the long jump. Convincing in all, Brunner stands supreme and leaves Hollingsworth wondering where the challenges for the 35-year-old will come from.

Beatrice Faumuina was 8m clear of the challengers in retaining her discus title with an encouraging 61.61m best.

Jane Arnott was well clear of the field in adding another 400m title to her big haul of national titles, even if her 52.77s was outside the 52.20s she has been chasing for Games selection.

Shafat Salad joined Vandermade as a world junior championships hope with his outstanding run in the 3000m steeplechase. On his own from the time he cleared the first barrier, the youngster made the seniors in the field look second-rate as he charged home in 8m 59.09s - nearly half a minute clear.

James Dolphin, named sprinter of the year, confirmed the title with his 200m victory to complete the sprint double, beating Matt Brown by 0.2s.

That run was enough to encourage Hollingsworth to send Brown to the Australian championships in search of competition and faster times.

Nick Willis did only as he needed to win the 1500m.

Always in control, Willis held off Paul Hamblyn - also Commonwealth Games-bound - to win without undue strain as he prepares for next month’s Wanganui Mile.

Hollingsworth was encouraged by the overall performances at the championships and not unduly concerned that not many of the athletes who will be confirmed for Melbourne got close to their qualifying marks.

“It was not about that,” he said.

“It was more about competing and showing they are on course. They did that.”


NZ athletes to have achieved Games qualifying marks


  • 4x100m relay team (James Dolphin, Chris Donaldson, Carl Van der Speck plus three to be added), Dolphin (200m), Jason Stewart (800m), Nick Willis, Paul Hamblyn (1500m), Adrian Blincoe (1500m), Michael Aish (10,000m), Craig Barrett, Tony Sargisson (50km walk), Stuart Farquhar (javelin), Brent Newdick (decathlon).


  • Kate McIlroy, Fiona Crombie, Rebecca Furlong (3000m steeplechase), Kimberley Smith (5000m), Liza Hunter-Galvan (marathon), Rebecca Moore (marathon), Chantal Brunner (long jump), Angela McKee (high jump), Melina Hamilton (pole vault), Valerie Vili (shot put), Beatrice Faumuina (discus), Rebecca Wardell, Sarah Cowley (heptathlon).