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Thompson inspires NZ athletes

09 Feb 06 00:03
NZ Shot Putter Valerie Vili has been chosen for her second Commonwealth Games team 

NZ Shot Putter Valerie Vili has been chosen for her second Commonwealth Games team.

British Athletics great Daley Thompson has been called in by New Zealand coaches to help inspire the Track and Field team as it trains for next month's Commonwealth Games.

The double Olympic Decathlon champion will travel to the Gold Coast base for the team’s final training, led by Athletics New Zealand performance director Eric Hollingsworth who also represented England as a decathlete.

"He is happy to see the success New Zealand athletes are enjoying and is happy to be associated with the team. He would not be there if he did not think he had something to offer," said Mr Hollingsworth.

Thompson won the 1982 Commonwealth Games Decathlon in Brisbane, and the first world championship in 1983, but is best remembered for his epic 1984 victory in Los Angeles when he went head-to-head with German world record holder Jurgen Hingsen winning with a world record-equalling score of 8798 points.

The 1980 and 1984 Olympic champion applied for the head of performance post at UK Athletics when the head coach Max Jones left but was overlooked in favour of Dave Collins.

He will instead help the squad of 29 Track and Field athletes named in an experience-packed NZ team heading for Melbourne.

Double Commonwealth Games gold medallist Beatrice Faumuina will again take her place in the Discus circle as she chases a third straight gold medal in the event and a fourth consecutive medal at the Commonwealth Games.

Valerie Vili, who conquered the 20 metre barrier in the Shot Put at the recent national championships in Christchurch will make her second Commonwealth Games appearance.

There is plenty of experience in the team, with Chantal Brunner and Craig Barrett making their fourth Commonwealth Games appearances, while 50km walker Tony Sargisson and pole vaulter Melina Hamilton will be attending their third Games in Melbourne.

 “The team is full of experience and emerging talent who are ready to represent New Zealand with distinction,” Mr Hollingsworth said.

“There is much credit to this group of athletes and coaches for the response to the new direction from the performance department.   This has resulted in a team twice the size of the Manchester Commonwealth Games with many realistic medal chances and finals potential”.

The Athletics team will take to the Melbourne Cricket Ground from the 19 – 25 March.

The New Zealand Track and Field team is: Adrian Blincoe, Angela McKee, Beatrice Faumuina, Chantal Brunner, Craig Barrett, Fiona Crombie, Jason Stewart, Kimberley Smith, Liza Galvin-Hunter, Melina Hamilton, Michael Aish, Nick Willis, Paul Hamblyn, Tony Sargisson, Valerie Vili, James Dolphin, Rebecca Moore, Kate McIlroy, Sarah Cowley, Rebecca Forlong, Jane Arnott, Rebecca Wardell, Brent Newdick, Chris Donaldson, Carl van der Speck, James Mortimer, David Falealili, Matt Brown and Stuart Farquhar 

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