Virtual sphere harnessed for throwers to compete

An innovative approach will get New Zealand’s throwers competing against each other this weekend.

A national virtual throws competition, an idea conjured up by Otago coach Raylene Bates, will be held around the country.

The Caledonian Ground had originally been set to host a Canterbury v Rest of South Island meeting this weekend.

That was cancelled earlier last month, due to the Covid-19 situation at the time, and the idea of a virtual meeting was explored.

Athletes in the throwing disciplines (shot put, discus, hammer and javelin) have taken up the opportunity, and it will extend to be a nationwide competition.

"I just thought, ‘Well, let’s just put a virtual competition on’," Bates said.

"Because I’m part of the throws events group on Athletics New Zealand, I put it out to the throwers and thought, ‘Let’s do it’.

"Everyone can compete in their own age group, and they can throw their own implement weight.

"All they’ve got to do is have the correct officials at the event and they just send all the results to me.

"I’ll do a master results sheet for the whole country."

Virtually every centre around the country would take part in the event, she said.

Competitions could be held on either Saturday or Sunday.

The event would be significant for junior athletes in particular.

The under-18 grade of the national championships had been cancelled at the end of last season, and the national secondary school championships had also been called off.

That had left those athletes with little competition.

Bates said while conditions would vary in different locations, it was a case of just making the best of it.

"You’ve just got to go with it.

"Some centres it may be raining, others it may be perfect and 30degC.

"But it’s an opportunity to get out and compete and have some fun, rather than just training, training, training."

She said she had put the challenge out to the other events as well, but they "didn’t quite take the bait".

Athletics Otago will run a regular interclub meeting in lieu of the South Island-wide challenge.


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