Veitch looking to hit his stride

Shay Veitch is aiming big for the Sir Graeme Douglas International in Auckland tomorrow. PHOTO:...
Shay Veitch is aiming big for the Sir Graeme Douglas International in Auckland tomorrow. PHOTO: LINDA ROBERTSON
Shay Veitch created something special at last year’s Sir Graeme Douglas International.

The national long jump champion soared to a personal best of 7.99m, a jump which put him second-equal in the national records.

Veitch, 23, came within 6cm of the national record (8.05cm) set by Bob Thomas in 1968.

It is a record that has been on Veitch’s radar for a couple of seasons now and he will be hoping to create a little bit of magic at tomorrow’s Sir Graeme Douglas International.

He does not have to look far for inspiration surrounded by a high calibre field at the meet in Auckland, including Olympian Henry Frayne, Shoutarou Shiroyama, Chris Mitrevski and Liam Adock.

They share personal bests upwards of 8.15m, and while some might find it intimidating, Veitch used it to fuel him.

"It’s hard to compete sometimes knowing that there’s not that much accountability if you don’t do well,’’ Veitch said.

"The meet I had [last year] was sort of like that.

"You know you have to show up, because if you don’t then you’re not going to place very well at all.

"Especially with the field coming into this one, I’m only going to get three jumps if I don’t jump well — it’s exciting.’’

The Ariki athlete has stepped up his training from last season, under the tutelage of Wanaka coach Mike Beable, but has yet to put it into an event this season.

His first event was affected by bad weather, and he was unwell heading into another, so he is aiming for a healthy meet this time.

"That would also get me over the 8m barrier which is a big milestone for the sport. It’s where everyone wants to get to.’’

Veitch, who finishes his master’s degree in nutrition in May, knew he had tomorrow’s event and the national track and field championships next weekend as his "big two chances’’ to show everyone was coming together.

His training had changed over the past few years as more male athletes came through the elite ranks giving him more people to work alongside.

"If you were to look at the results from the Otago champs last weekend, there were some pretty incredible performances.

"So, it’s really not just me in Otago on the men’s side anymore.

"It’s really snowballing and becoming a great training environment at the Caledonian.

"You’ve got some of the best athletes in the country there, so it’s getting better every year."

Otago will have two senior men’s relay teams competing at nationals — no other region has two — and Veitch tipped them to do well.

Felix McDonald, Finn O’Sullivan, Holly Robinson, Becky Aitkenhead and Jorja Gibbons will also represent Otago at the Sir Graeme Douglas International.