Monday, March 26, 2012

Blincoe has July 8th Deadline to Show Competitive Form
New Zealand Olympic Committee Wants a Show of Fitness

The New Zealand Olympic Committee has named its first four team members for the 2012 Olympics in London. Nick Willis (1500 meters), Kim Smith (marathon), Valerie Adams (shot), and Stuart Farquhar (javelin) have been named, identified by the NZOC as medal contenders. Villanova's own Adrian Blincoe, New Zealand's national record holder at 5000 meters (13:10.19) has already achieved the Olympic "A" standard, having run 13:18.27 last year. The NZOC identified Blincoe and 3 others as needing to show top form in competition by July 8th to assure themselves a spot on the team. Recall as well that Nick Willis is talking seriously of a 1500-5000 double in London (Willis does not as yet have the Olympic "A" standard at 5000 meters, but is optimistic that he can run under 13:10). Here's the story from

Initial NZ Athletics Olympic team named

Four athletes have been named today by the New Zealand Olympic Committee as part of an initial athletics team to represent New Zealand at the London Olympic Games. Valerie Adams (shotput), Nick Willis (1500m), Kimberly Smith (marathon) and Stuart Farquhar (javelin) are all in strong contention to contribute to New Zealand’s 100th Olympic medal at London 2012.

Overnight results from Europe means an additional athlete is expected to join this group within days. 50km race walker Quentin Rew from Wellington (27) met the IAAF ‘A’ standard at a race meet in Dundince, Slovenia with a time of 3hr58m48s. This result was eleven seconds inside the standard. The New Zealand Olympic Committee expects to receive his nomination for selection this week.

Athletics selectors also named an additional group of athletes at the announcement today which includes Shotput Junior World Champion Jacko Gill, Commonwealth Games silver medal winning decathlete Brent Newdick, distance runner Adrian Blincoe and Commonwealth Games 800m and 1500m silver medallist Nikki Hamblin. These athletes have met selection standards while either current form or competition for their single B-category spots in the Olympic team stands in the way of formal selection until the qualification period ends on July 8.

New Zealand Olympic Committee Secretary General and selector Kereyn Smith said she was delighted to have named the first members of the London Olympic athletics team.

“Adams, Willis, Smith and Farquhar are all realistic medal prospects and will contribute to not only New Zealand’s London medal count, but also to New Zealand’s proud athletics history,” she said.

“This morning’s news about Quentin was a great boost and takes us back to Kiwi Norman Read winning gold in the gruelling 50km walk at the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games.

It’s also fantastic to have such a talented group of athletes in Brent, Nikki, Adrian and Jacko so close to both nomination and selection. We’ll be monitoring their progress as London 2012 approaches,” Smith added.

Adams currently holds the Olympic, World and World Indoor titles and is gunning for a repeat of her Beijing 2008 performance in London. Beijing Silver Medallist Nick Willis is ranked world number seven in the 1500m and is considering a late-season attempt at qualifying for the 5000m. Commonwealth Games silver medallist Stuart Farquhar’s official rankings put him at 17th while Smith, who finished sixth in the New York Marathon last year, sits at 28th on performance alone but is capable of placing much higher.

Rew’s overnight quest to meet the ‘A’ standard saw him finish ninth in the field. He placed 24th at the 2011 Athletics World Championships in Daegu, Korea. Daegu was his first major international meet.

Convenor of Athletics New Zealand selectors Graham O’Brien said it was tough on the athletes who had met selection standards but could not yet be named. “With just one B-category athlete permitted per country, the Athletics NZ selectors did not believe it fair to close off selection with still more than 100 days to games time.”

Both Gill and Newdick are fending off competition for their single B-category spots. Timaru shot-putter Tom Walsh is getting close to meeting the selection criteria with his best throw of 18.83 metres 1.47 metres off the standard. Decathlete Scott McLaren remains several hundred points off the selection standard but is committed to staying in the hunt for a spot.

Hamblin and Blincoe, while both meeting IAAF ‘A’ qualification standards, need to prove current form as stipulated New Zealand Olympic Committee selection criteria, developed in conjunction with Athletics New Zealand. Hamblin is recovering from an Achilles tendon injury and Blincoe is awaiting the start of the US season in May.

Rew’s nomination to the New Zealand Olympic Committee would be confirmed and actioned by Athletics NZ as soon as possible.

Athletics NZ also said that in the countdown to the opening of the Olympic Games in London, a number of additional athletes may yet have their names submitted to the New Zealand Olympic Committee.

“There is a strong pool of talent sitting just outside the New Zealand Olympic Committee selection criteria,” said O’Brien. “There’s an exciting race for a spot in women’s heptathlon between Sarah Cowley, Rebecca Wardell and Veronica Torr and there is a chance our women’s 1500m may have an additional entry with Lucy Van Dalen taking the NCAA indoor championships recently.

“Kenya-based Jake Robertson is working hard towards a 5000m spot and hurdler Andrea Miller has recovered from a spinal injury and will be back racing again this month in Europe.”

Athletics is currently New Zealand’s top medal-performing sport having won 20 Olympic medals (nine gold, two silver, nine bronze), including our first medal won at the London Olympic Games in 1908 (Harry Kerr, bronze, 3500m track walk).

The announcements were made on the final day of the New Zealand Track and Field Championships held at Douglas Track and Field, The Trusts Stadium, Waitakere.
Athletics New Zealand selectors will consider the case of athletes who meet the IAAF ‘A’ Standard immediately. The New Zealand Athletics Team for the Olympic Games qualification cut-off date of July 8 2012.

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