Championships delay no problem for Veitch

Shay Veitch
Shay Veitch
There is a silver lining to the delay to the national track and field championships for one of Otago’s top athletes.

Shay Veitch will now be an extra three weeks returned from injury.

The championships had been due to begin today in Hastings and run until Sunday.

But heightened Covid-19 alert levels meant they could not be held as planned and it was announced on Wednesday night they will instead be held on March 26 and 27.

That means readjusting training schedules, as well as re-booking flights and accommodation.

While that will all be less than ideal for athletes travelling from around New Zealand, it has brought a positive for Veitch (20).

The long jumper and sprinter has been working back from a hamstring injury he suffered around the New Year period.

He had five weeks off, before returning on February 13 with a jump of 7.63m.

It was just 3cm shy of the personal best he set in the competition prior to his injury, while he followed it with a 7.61m a week later in Dunedin.

While he has put out some rapid times in the 100m and 200m he said his fitness was still not quite where it had been pre-injury.

The extra three weeks will be beneficial to him in that regard.

His primary focus for the championships would be the long jump.

He had planned to run the 100m, too, as the original schedule had worked well for the two events.

However, now it had been condensed to a two-day meeting he would see how they fitted together.

The Otago long jump record of 7.71m is well in his targets, as is a gold medal.

Heading into the competition showing greater consistency than he has in the past was a big boost, he said.

"My last three jumping competitions I’ve been over that 7.60m mark which has been nice," Veitch said.

"It’s probably half a metre up on that benchmark where I was last year.

"Last season I was struggling to get to the low 7m, so definitely a big improvement.

"I’m happy to be consistently at that distance, so hopefully by nationals I can add an extra 10cm and pick up that Otago record."

Veitch’s toughest competition for the title will be local rival Felix McDonald.

McDonald won the duel last year and the reigning national champion has been in good form again this summer.

Veitch said it was good having such a strong opponent to compete against regularly.

"I think we’re both pretty thankful we’re both here together.

"It’s been quite common we’ve been against each other in an interclub. It keeps you accountable.

"Whereas if you’re not feeling it and there’s not anyone else competing you might not give it all your effort.

"But it keeps you sharp having someone there who’s going to beat you if you’re not sharp."

The rescheduled event would include only senior and under-20 grades.

Athletics New Zealand is exploring moving the under-18 competition to later in the year.

The meeting falls on the same weekend as the South Island secondary school championships.

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