Walsh wins shot put and bet with record indoor worlds throw
BIRMINGHAM, England (AP) — Don’t bet against Tomas Walsh.
The New Zealander broke the oldest record belonging to the world indoors athletics championships when he won the shot put on Saturday.
Walsh’s final throw of 22.31 meters eclipsed the record of 22.24 set by Ulf Timmermann in 1987, five years before Walsh was born.
The distance was also a personal best for Walsh — indoor and out — and cost his coach Dale Stevenson, who will have to sport huge sideburns for the rest of the year following a wager.
“I had to PB and win for him to have mutton chops for nine months,” a beaming Walsh told The Associated Press.
It was a second successive world indoors title for Walsh, who also won gold at the 2017 world championships and bronze in the 2016 Olympics.
Walsh and Stevenson also had a bet on the world championships and, after failing to beat his personal best in London, Walsh had to get a tattoo of his coach’s choice.
While Walsh wouldn’t divulge what tattoo he got, saying it was between him and Stevenson, he did reveal it had to be visible in “barbeque attire” and got it inked on his foot.
Walsh said the bets are a way to relieve the pressure of competition.
“We talk about it generally leading into big comps and what we want to kind of accomplish,” he said. “It just adds a little bit more spice. We signal during the competition about it, how you feeling and talk about it. We really don’t talk about anything else apart from the bet generally.
“When I throw well I know I need to be relaxed and not amped and very low key, and that’s what I did so well today. I was in a great rhythm, great timing.”
Walsh surpassed his personal best of 21.78 on his first throw, and matched that 22.13 mark on his next successful one.
His final throw moved him to fourth on the all-time list.
“The first two 22-meter throws were easy and that’s always a good sign but that one there I got a little bit more juice behind it and it just felt great off the hand and it was just a great feeling,” Walsh said.
Walsh said he might offer his coach a way to avoid his hairy fate at their next event, the Commonwealth Games on Australia’s Gold Coast next month.
“There might be an option out for Dale, depending on how I throw,” Walsh said. “Double or nothing maybe.”