Wednesday, 06 September 2017 00:59

Japanese schoolboy drawn to Timaru Boys' High because of Tom Walsh

World champion shot putter Tom Walsh's pulling power has extended 9500km, all the way to Japan.

An 18-year-old schoolboy from Osaka has turned up at Walsh's old school, Timaru Boys' High, as he wants to follow in the footsteps of the world champion.

Taito Watanabe's dream is to one day compete in the Olympics against Walsh.

Watanabe said once he decided to spend a year in New Zealand as an international student, the school Walsh attended became an obvious choice.

"My agent said it was possible, so I wanted to come." 

The 108kg athlete has also teamed up with Walsh's original coach, Ian Baird, and is loving every moment of the experience.

"Ian is a very good coach; I am very happy.

"Every day I am getting stronger and better."

At the moment Watanabe's best distance is 13.38 metres, but he hopes to get out to near 18m before he leaves Timaru.

He is already learning plenty.

"No one in Japan learns to spin (in the shot put circle) at school, which is the best way. We just stand and throw," he said.

Watanabe was originally a baseballer but took up shot put at 14 because he liked it.

The international student has enjoyed everything about South Canterbury in the month he has been here, with a lot of firsts ticked off.

His homestay family had already take him skiing and was heading out hunting this weekend.

"It is all good, I love it here," he said.

Watanabe said he might also try rugby next season, as Walsh played No.8 for the First XV.

He had also attended his first school formal, the Jurassic Park-themed Timaru Boys' High ball last weekend.

"It was very good, I really enjoyed it."

But despite all the distractions, Watanabe said shot put remained his focus.

"I want to be No.1 in Japan," he said. 

TBHS sports director Gary Ivamy said Watanabe had been delightful since he had arrived at the school.

"Taito gives everything a go, with a smile on his face.

"He is a great advertisement for international students."

Coach Baird said his new charge was a rough diamond with potential.

"He is very similar to Tom in attitude and size.

"I'm just not sure how well he dances (in the circle), I have not seen him pirouette yet. We have just been using a medicine ball."

Baird said he will have a better idea in October when athletics returns to the Aorangi track.  

"He will certainly take several steps towards where he wants to go, but he is also handy with the javelin, so who knows where he might end up? But he will certainly never be a sprinter."

The colourful young shot putter's only slight disappointment so far in Timaru was when a Stuff reporter turned up to interview him at school. He originally believed he would be meeting his idol, something he hopes can be arranged before too long.

- Stuff


Brazil police say Rio Olympics were bought in corrupt scheme

Brazilian officials said on Tuesday that the country's Olympics chief was the "lynchpin" in a plot to bribe the International Olympic Committee into awarding Rio de Janeiro last year's Games.

Brazilian police said in a statement they were probing "an international corruption scheme" aimed at "the buying of votes for the election of (Rio) by the International Olympic Committee as the venue for the 2016 Olympics."

Revealing a nine-month investigation spanning several countries and dubbed "Unfair Play," police said Carlos Nuzman had been taken in for questioning and his house searched.

Nuzman, who was the pointman for Rio's successful bid to become the first South American host of the Olympics, left his house in Rio's posh Leblon neighborhood while police officers exited with bags of evidence.

Prosecutors said Nuzman was detained to give testimony and although not arrested he had his passport confiscated.