NZ record, qualifications in Veitch’s sights

Shay Veitch trains under the watchful eye of coach Michael Beable in Wanaka this week. PHOTO:...
Shay Veitch trains under the watchful eye of coach Michael Beable in Wanaka this week. PHOTO: MARJORIE COOK
Shay Veitch entered the pantheon of New Zealand’s greatest long jumpers on Friday.

By the end of the summer, he hopes to be on top of that list — and taking his talent to the world.

The Ariki athlete has the national long jump record, as well as Commonwealth Games and World Championship qualification, firmly in his sights.

On Friday, he took his first step towards those, in Christchurch.

A leap of 7.8m was a personal best and Otago record.

It was also his first jump of the season, having been sidelined with a foot strain that restricted his training for nine weeks.

That suggests there may be more to come.

While the jump propelled him to sixth on the all time national rankings, Veitch was clear he had bigger things in mind.

‘‘It’s been all I’ve been thinking about since the end of last season,’’ the 20-year-old said of qualification to the world events.

‘‘It’s always been a goal to get to the highest level and compete with the best in the world.

‘‘Seeing I might only be six months away from those sort of competitions is very exciting.’’

Veitch would have to jump at least 8m to achieve a Games B standard qualification.

An A standard would be a very tough 8.15m — 10cm further than the New Zealand record.

That 8.05m record, set in 1968 by Bob Thomas in Whangerei, is well in Veitch’s sights.

He had watched back the film of his jumps from Saturday.

That had shown him areas where he still had plenty of room for improvement.

He planned to spend the next month training with an eye to putting out some big jumps in the new year.

‘‘Particularly in the take-off,’’ he said.

‘‘I’m just leaning back a bit much, which is slowing me down.

‘‘Toning that up, which should come with some good training this December, should get me past 8m.’’

They were adjustments he knew he could make.

On top of that, each summer he has improved markedly.

If he could continue that trend, he would be well positioned to break the 8m barrier.

‘‘I’m very confident. Assuming I can stay injury-free, somewhere in February or March, striking me with good conditions, by then it’s only going to be a matter of time.’’

Veitch was planning to return to competition at either the Lovelock Classic, in Timaru, or Dunedin’s Yvette Williams Memorial Meeting, in early January.

He might also look to Australia for some competition, following the national championships.

However, he would not go anywhere long-term next year, as he planned to stay in Dunedin to finish his degree.

Sprinting would also become more of a focus as the summer wore on.

While his injury had not been so hard to bounce back from in long jump, the lack of fitness it caused had made the extra 60m he has to run in the 100m a bit tougher.

His time of 10.84sec on Saturday was not slow, by any means.

However, he ran a wind-assisted 10.34sec to win the national title last summer.

Reaching that time in a wind-legal performance was a goal for this season.

For now, Veitch is spending the week in Wanaka.

There he is training with his coach, Michael Beable, who lives in the town.

 - jeff.cheshire@odt.co.nz

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