Sprinter Zoe Hobbs breaks record to become NZ's fastest woman

Chris Rattue, NZ Herald,
Other Sport,
Publish Date
Monday, 28 January 2019, 6:08PM
Zoe Hobbs breaks away to win the Women's Elite 100m during the Capital Classic Track and Field Meeting at Newtown Park on January 18 in Wellington. (Photo / Getty)
Zoe Hobbs breaks away to win the Women's Elite 100m during the Capital Classic Track and Field Meeting at Newtown Park on January 18 in Wellington. (Photo / Getty)

Athletics records die hard in New Zealand.

The 21-year-old sprinter Zoe Hobbs took steps towards breaking a 26-year-old New Zealand 100m record when she competed in the Potts Classic in Hastings over the weekend.

Stratford's Hobbs had already broken the 100m record for a New Zealander on home soil this year, beating the mark set by Michelle Seymour in 1994.

The Taranaki flyer, whose training base is in Auckland, went faster again in Hastings recording 11.37s.

But she is still one-tenth of a second outside the 1993 mark set by Seymour in Melbourne.

Seymour, who lives overseas, told Newsroom she hopes Hobbs will head to the more competitive environment in Australia in an effort to get even faster.

She rang Hobbs to congratulate her, and has watched video of the race.

"It's awesome that she's broken the resident record, and I'm proud that it stood for very close to 25 years," Seymour said.

But 25 years is by no means a record for an athletics record.

The oldest women's record on the books is the 400m mark set by Aucklander Kim Robertson in 1980, of 51.60.

Robertson — whose father Morrie was a Kiwis league captain — was New Zealand's athlete of the year in 1980, when her Olympic dream was ruined by the Moscow Games boycott.

Robertson ran the record in the New Zealand track series, a televised event which brought world class athletes to this country.

The longevity of Robertson's record is nothing compared to some in men's athletics.

The legendary Peter Snell still holds the 800m record of 1:44.3 set in 1962 on a Christchurch grass track. New Zealand runners including the great John Walker have been unable to break the mark, which is the fastest world time on grass.

There are a lot of longstanding athletics records on the men's side. Most extraordinarily, they include the 8.05m long jump mark set by Northlander Bob Thomas in 1968.

Thomas, who passed away aged 76 three years ago, set the record at Whangarei's Okara Park, best known as the home of Northland rugby. He had been spurred on in a battle with Dave Norris.

"It shouldn't have lasted all this time with the all-weather tracks they have now," Thomas told the Northern Advocate shortly before his death.

Recalling his great leap, the only one over 8m by a Kiwi, Kawakawa's Thomas said: "I'll always remember it.

"I knew right from the start of my run-up that this was going to be the big one. It's just a sense I had. I really wanted it badly."

Norris, an outstanding Kiwi athlete who became a significant sports figure, described the durability of the Thomas record as a "mystery".

Meanwhile, Hobbs will get another shot at removing Seymour from the record books at the ACT Championships in Canberra next week.