Athletics: US college training serves Shields well

Caden Shields.
Caden Shields.
Caden Shields (Otago) used his United States experience to win the New Zealand 10,000m title in Timaru on Saturday.

Shields (24), a Dunedin physiotherapy student, conquered the sweltering heat - 32 degC - to win in 31min 32.85sec.

Tim Hodge (Wellington) was second in 31min 45.15sec and Dunedin medical student Peter Meffan (Tasman) was third in 31min 49.13sec.

A fast time was not expected in the conditions. It was just a matter of conserving energy before making a late bid for home in the 25-lap race.

Shields spent three years studying at Purdue University in the US and his tactical nous was honed in the tough collegiate competition.

He used that experience to sense when his opponents were weakening and applied pressure in the last three laps to win by 13sec.

Before he left for the US, Shields won the New Zealand junior 10,000m in 2007 and 2008. This was his first senior track title.

When he returned to New Zealand in 2011, Shields was recovering from a stress fracture and it took time for him to get used to the miles-based training of his New Zealand coach, Prof Richard Barker.

He has raced only sparingly since his return but this performance will restore his confidence.

Meffan continued the rapid improvement he has made over the past 12 months to take the bronze medal.

The junior men's 10,000m title was won by Jonah Smith (Otago) in 36min 54.21sec, and former Otago runner Kellie Hurring (Canterbury) won the senior women's title in 38min 23.20sec.

The championship events were run during the Lovelock Classic meeting.

Former University of Otago student Matt Lambert (Tasman) won the Lovelock mile in 4min 16.48sec from former Otago athletes Daniel Balchin (4min 16.54sec) and Callan Moody (4min 17.73sec).

Dunedin's Rebekah Greene won the women's mile in 4min 49.37sec.

Otago athletes also performed well in the sprints. Daniel O'Shea won the senior men's 100m in 11.18sec and the 400m in 48sec. Fiona Hely won the women's 200m in 25.82sec and the 400m in 58.18sec.

Rozie Robinson (Otago) won the women's 3km track walk in 14min 50.90sec.

Marshall Hall (Otago) was second in the men's discus with 51.72m, his best throw of the season. Dale Stevenson (Australia) won the event with 51.95m.