Could Tomas Walsh break the shot put trend?

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Tom Walsh at the 2018 Bislett Games. Photo: Matthew Quine

The men’s shot put is one of those events that nobody has been able to get a true foothold on.

Every global championships since 2005 has seen a different gold medalist each year, with the USA’s Adam Nelson winning the World Championships after his Olympic gold Athens 2004.

Therefore, recent history doesn’t seem to be on the side of world and Commonwealth champion Tomas Walsh, with each gold medal seeming to unintentionally curse any shot putter as soon as it is placed around their necks.

However, if there is anyone who can possibly break this trend, Walsh looks like the one. His 22.67m throw in his home country of New Zealand proved to be the furthest of any shot putter since 2003, in a season that saw him bag a second successive Diamond Trophy, along with Commonwealth gold.

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There was a warning sign towards the end of the season when Walsh missed out on a Continental Cup win to Brazil’s Darlan Romani. Although the Continental Cup also proved quite strange for field athletes with some absolute titans of the sport also being beaten to gold.

This season as a whole was also far from plain sailing for the 26-year-old, with the Diamond League meetings sometimes seeing him finish down in fourth while his American rival Ryan Crouser took the honours.

But if anything, all it proved was that while Walsh isn’t the outright dominant force, he can still pull a strong performance out of the bag when it really matters.

In a close-looking Diamond League final in Zurich, Walsh laid down the largest of markers within two throws when he launched a 22.60m Diamond League record to throw down the gauntlet to his opponents.

It was a throw too far for even his toughest opponents, as Walsh once again raised his game in a final just like he did at London 2017.

The World Championships had also seen the Kiwi provide one of the most compelling stories of the whole competition.

His gold medal had come at a time when he was working as a builder, with his win made even more impressive by the fact that it was the first ever shot put final to see seven men throw over 21 metres.

Walsh has definitely shown recent knack of digging out a top performance when he needs it. Although Ryan Crouser may also be quick to remind him that, from his and many other shot putters’ experiences, being at the top is no guarantee for success.

For Walsh however, a mixture of work commitments and an abundance of talent has seen him needing a huge amount of dedication and focus to make his way to the top.

When pressure starts to bite and doubts begin to creep in, it could be these qualities that eventually prove to be the difference in ensuring that he bucks the trend and keeps his place at the top.