Aitkenhead impressive in 1500m win

Becky Aitkenhead pushed hard early.

The Otago long-distance runner tucked in behind the lead to start off, and when the pace dropped off, Aitkenhead made her move.

She pulled away from the group with about 700m to go, gave herself a handy 15m lead and never let up as she stormed home to win the women’s 1500m in 4min 12.50sec at the Sir Graeme Douglas International on Sunday.

It was an impressive race for the Hill City-University athlete against a quality field.

Kiwis Brigid Dennehy (4min 14.03sec) and Laura Nagel (4min 15.22sec), with whom Aitkenhead has had many battles through the years, finished second and third respectively to hold out Japanese stars Ran Urabe and Tomoka Kimura.

Aitkenhead (nee Greene) was among a swag of Otago athletes who competed in Auckland.

Paralympian Holly Robinson (F46) won the women’s para shot put.

Her best throw of 11.71m (93.91%) edged world and Paralympic shot put champion Lisa Adams (F37), who threw 14.55m (93.87%), on scaled performance.

Jorja Gibbons was part of a New Zealand under-20 women’s 4x100m relay team that finished second in 46.16sec to Australia under-20.

Gibbons was the fourth runner alongside Amelia Fairclough, Kendra Scally and Charlotte Goldsmith.

She also finished fifth in the 100m (race two) in 12.12sec.

Long jumper Shay Veitch finished 10th, the highest New Zealand placing, in the men’s long jump.

He finished with a best jump of 7.40m.

Felix McDonald finished 13th with his jump of 7.33m.

He also finished fourth in the men’s 100m (race two) in 10.93sec.

Other standouts included former Southland javelin thrower Tori Peeters, who surpassed the previous meet record she set in 2022.

Peeters threw 58.19m to finish second, smashing her record of 56.50m.

Yuka Sato (59.23m) and Sae Takemoto (57.40m), both of Japan, also beat the previous record to finish first and third respectively.