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Lamb breaks record, takes title

Liam Lamb clears out to win the national U20 3000m championship and smash a 40-year old track record on Saturday night. PHOTOS/SUPPLIED

Contemplating scholarship offers from American universities


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A different approach paid off for Wairarapa athlete Liam Lamb as he powered away to win the New Zealand Under 20 3000m championship at Cook’s Gardens, Whanganui on Saturday night.

Lamb, 18, smashed his personal best by 28 seconds and broke a 40-year-old stadium record by eight seconds.

The Wairarapa Track and Field representative said he tried different tactics and it worked exactly as he planned.

“The pack went out really hard from the start, the pace was really fast, and the first mile was done in four minutes 28 seconds” he said.

“It would’ve been stupid for me to get out in front, and it was best to sit in, so I was fifth for a lot of the way.”

Lamb made his move with two laps to go when he went to third place. On the last lap he moved up beside leader Will Anthony from Wellington Olympic.

The pair were neck and neck around the final bend, before Lamb outsprinted Anthony in the straight to win by 1.21sec.

Liam Lamb top of the podium, with Will Anthony [left] and Liam Back [right].
Lamb, Anthony and third-placed Liam Back [Whanganui] all broke the previous record set by Terry Stone in 1980. Lamb had never previously beaten Anthony and Back in national championship events.

Despite setting a personal best of 8.24.79, Lamb says he can still run quicker.

“My coach Mark Harris helped me peak at the right time. It’s the best result I’ve had, but I think I’m capable of running under 8min 20sec.”

Harris said the win ranks Lamb number one in New Zealand for Under 20 athletes and number two overall and based on last year’s world rankings for under 20 athletes it would rank him 117th in the world.

“It was an exceptional race. I haven’t stopped buzzing about it since Saturday night. As a coach you live for the moments and Saturday night was just awesome.”

Harris said the win had been the result of two years planning and working towards Lamb’s potential.

“Recently we have had some very robust conversations about his race tactics and his mental space, and on Saturday night he perfected our discussions to the max” he said.

“At 18, he has a lot yet to come, he’s nowhere near his optimum, but if he sticks at it, who knows where he could end up.”

Next on the radar for Lamb is the national Under 20 5000m championships in Christchurch in March and a possible attempt at the Australian Under 20 3000m championship in Sydney in late March.

Lamb, who finished Wairarapa College at the end of 2019, is also mulling over his longer-term future.

“I’ve had a few scholarship offers from universities in America, but haven’t considered all my options yet” he said.

Other athletes to shine at the Cook’s Gardens’ meeting were Mikael Starzynski [Athletics Wairarapa], who won the open 400m, and 16-year-old Matthew Rodger [Wairarapa Track and Field], who set a personal best of 11.51sec for the 100m.

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