The shot put pit was the place to be at Waitakere Stadium on Sunday morning as Ryan Ballantyne went big with his second throw of the day.
The St Paul’s collegiate thrower hurled the 5kg projectile out to the far reaches of the sand to register a winning throw of 21.66m and take victory ahead of Whangarei Boys’ High School’s Scott Gregory (best throw 17.97m) and St Pat’s Town’s Gregory Ah Nau (14.00m).
Not only was Ryan’s 21.66m throw a personal best, but it was the best throw in the world this year by an U18 competitor - 15cm further than that of teenage Greek putter Odisseas Mouzenidis.
Talking with College Sport Media, Ryan said he was confident of performing well on Sunday.
“Leading into this event I recently threw 20.02 and 20.04, so to go a metre and a half beyond that here is great,” he said. “It’s been a tough old season but obviously it pays off when you throw something like that.”
Ryan thanked his coaches for his success. “My coaches have played a huge part in helping with my preparation to achieve this - my strength and conditioning coach Michiel Badenhorst and my throwing coach Dale Stevenson."
Ryan said his previous experience representing New Zealand at the Youth World Championships was beneficial.
“Putting on the black singlet is an amazing experience. I didn’t perform as well as I would have liked to, I think I threw 18-something metres. I was really nervous – but now I have learnt to deal with the nerves and adrenalin helps with increasing the distance.
Ryan, who has just left school in Hamilton, is heading south next year.
“I’m making the move down to Christchurch to train with Dale and [Olympic bronze medallist] Tom Walsh. I’ve learned a lot but I have to keep learning and being down there with those guys is the place to be for me.”
He has just completed his third year in the sport. “I started properly in year 11, I used to play rugby but I made the decision to choose throwing and it’s paying off.”
Of note, Tom Walsh’s best throw with the junior shot put weight of 5kg was 20.21m, while the New Zealand 5kg record is held by Jacko Gill at 23.86m who also made the Olympic final this year.
Ryan said he’ll soon be making the move to the senior weight of 7.2kg. “It’s a big push-up – it throws me around a bit more than I throw it!”
In other senior boys throwing events, Gerard Ah Nau won the Senior Boys discus, with Scott Gregory second and Jay Morris (Mahurangi College) third, while Scott Gregory won the Senior Boys hammer throw with Anthony Nobilo (Westlake Boys HS) second and Nicholas Hailes (Pinehurst School) third.
As well as his winning shot put throw of 21.66, Ryan was super-consistent with his other efforts. His previous best was 20-04 and his other recorded throws were 20.15m, 20. 31m and 20.82m (see his final throw in the video below).
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