Portia Bing created a slice of history by becoming the first Kiwi woman in Commonwealth Games history to advance to the
final of the women’s 400m hurdles with an assured display on the bright blue track in Birmingham.
The 29-year-old Aucklander, who last month at the World Championships became the first New Zealand hurdler to reach a
global championship semi-final for more than 50 years, was once again in history-making form as she placed third in heat
one in a time of 56.32.
The Kiwi made a solid start, although defending champion Janieve Russell on her immediate inside appeared to close the
stagger during the first 100m. Portia, however, responded by pouring on the gas down the back straight and held a slight
lead at halfway.
Executing a strong bend, she maintained her advantage leading into the home straight until the powerful Jamaican duo of
Russell and Shiaan Salmon seized control in the latter stages.
The fast-finishing Salmon took out the heat win in 55.30 – 0.49 clear of Russell with Portia comfortably banking the
third automatic qualification spot in 56.32.
A third Jamaican – Rushell Clayton – the heat two victor in 54.93 was the fastest qualifier for the final, which takes
place on Sunday morning.
Portia said: “I am really stoked. I was nervous (pre-race) when I learned that to make the final only two girls in the
heats would not make it, so it become a cutthroat final. There was only two seconds between all the girls racing in the
heats today, I felt a lot of pressure, but I am really pleased to have made it. It means a lot.
“During the race I felt really good. I went well down the back straight with 14 strides but around the top bend it got
messy because the thing with hurdles is you can’t slow down because it is rhythm based. I then thought I don’t need a PB
today, I just need to get through to the next round. It threw my rhythm out coming home. But there is something nice
about that knowing I have so much more to come.”
Connor Bell, the only other Kiwi in action on the third evening session of the track and field programme at Birmingham
2022, placed eighth in his final of the men’s discus with a best of 60.23m
It was not the perfect day for the 21-year-old Aucklander who struggled to find his best rhythm on a chilly night at the
He opened his account with a solid 59.44m to sit fifth after the first round but was unable to improve in round two as
he hurled the 2kg discus out to 58.88m. He produced his best for the day in round three with a 60.23m throw which placed
him eighth giving him the opportunity of three further throws.
In the second half of the competition, Connor struggled to fire registering no marks in rounds four and five before a
final round 58.84m.
Dominant Australian Matt Denny produced a monstrous series remarkably unleashing the top six marks of the competition
with a best of 67.26m to secure gold.
The New Zealand resident record-holder with a best of 64.29m has endured a far from perfect build up after breaking an
ankle late last year and as the youngest athlete in the field he will surely have more opportunities in the future to
make his mark on the championship stage.
Connor said: “I would have loved to have thrown further today but to have produced a 60m throw, I’m really proud. Eight
months ago, I didn’t know I would be here because of my ankle, so I’m proud to have got the result I have.
“It was super cool to be here with a bunch of guys I grow up watching on the TV. There is an awesome camaraderie between
everyone and it was a wicked comp, the most competitive discus throw final ever in the Commonwealth Games.
“Now I will go back home have a review post a break period and try to figure it out from there. I want to go back home,
get some work done, add a bit of horsepower and come back even stronger.”
The next Kiwis in action inside the Alexandra Stadium compete in the evening session on Saturday morning NZ time.
6.06am – Tom Walsh and Jacko Gill – Men’s shot put final