City becoming long jump hot spot

Shay Veitch
Shay Veitch
Otago is turning into something of a hot-bed for long jumpers.

Alongside a defending Paralympic champion in Anna Grimaldi, the province now boasts New Zealand’s two top-ranked men’s jumpers.

They are also tied as the 19th-ranked jumpers in the country’s history.

Ariki’s Shay Veitch reached those heights with a jump of 7.54m at the Caledonian Ground on Saturday.

It smashed his previous personal best of 7.38m.

It also drew him level with Taieri’s Felix McDonald, who is tied atop the rankings with a jump of the same distance.

McDonald (22) made his earlier this year in Christchurch, when he won gold at the national championships.

Felix McDonald
Felix McDonald
He did go further in those same championships, although his 7.64m jump was wind-assisted.

McDonald finished the 2017 year ranked second in New Zealand and was fifth in 2018.

For Veitch, who turns 20 next month, it is his first time inside the top five — although he won bronze at last season’s national championships.

After a breakout performance at the national secondary school championships two years ago, he has impressed at a range events.

That includes running six sub-11-second 100m races, as well as clocking a wind assisted 21.13sec 200m on Saturday.

If the pair can continue their progress they may be able to threaten Stephen Walsh’s Otago senior men’s record of 7.71m, set in 1985.

Anna Grimaldi
Anna Grimaldi
Veitch may also push Tom Davie’s men’s 20-years record of 7.60m, set in 2004.

Not long after that Davie got within a centimetre of Walsh’s record, before a serious injury ended his career that same year.

It is not just the men impressing this year.

Grimaldi is also in career-best form after struggling with a foot injury over the past few years.

The 23-year-old, who was born without a right hand, jumped her first personal best this season since her Paralympic-winning performance in Rio in 2016.

She set a new national para-record of 5.72m two weeks ago and bettered that with a wind-assisted 5.77m jump on Saturday.

That takes her to a career-high fifth on the women’s national rankings, including able-bodied jumpers.

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