Teenage shot sensation Jacko Gill has no regrets about passing up the London Olympics after defending his world junior shot put title at Barcelona this morning.
Gill (17) set a new meet record of 22.20m with the 6kg shot and all six of his throws in the final exceded the previous mark (21.50m), which he set in qualifying yesterday. In the process, he defeated Pole Krzysztof Brzozowksi, the only man to defeat the Kiwi in age-group competition at the 2010 Youth Olympic Games in Singapore.
The young Aucklander had also qualified for the Olympics with a 7kg last year, but made a shock decision to withdraw from consideration when he wasn't included in the first track and field selections in March.
After today's win, he was satisfied he'd made the right decision to concentrate on defending the junior title he'd won in Canada two years ago.
"Of course, everyone wants to go to the Olympics, but I haven't prepared for them at all," said Gill. "I've been preparing with a lighter weight and not at all with the 7kg. I'm happy to win this, and come through and to achieve my goal.
"I made my decision quite early on, when there was a lot of uncertainty whether I would even be selected with my age and everything. I've got lots more events like the Olympics and Commonwealth Games to look forward to.
"I'll be back with a senior weight in a couple of years - it's good to take little steps."
In Barcelona, Gill bombed his biggest effort in the fifth round and had the luxury of knowing he had the gold medal in his grasp when he stepped into the circle for his final toss. Aiming for a new world record, he backed up his winning mark with 22.02m.
Brzozowksi was second with 21.78m with Australian Damien Birkenhead (21.14m) third, both national records.
The Pole actually led through the first round, as Gill opened with 21.74m, but the Kiwi managed 22.19m with his next visit to the circle and all his remaining throws would have been good enough to win.
Gill's New Zealand record stands at 22.31m and in recent months, he's been hunting the world junior mark of 22.73m, held by current world senior champion David Storl of Germany. He has another two years to achieve this distance before he turns senior.
"I'm very happy," he said afterwards. "I actually got beaten in the first roumd, so I had to come from behind - I wasn't used to that - but it's always good to win these events.
"It's really hot here, so conditions aren't ideal for New Zealanders. The distance is not what I wanted, but I can't be sad."