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'He peaked a bit early' - Walsh keen to take down rival

New Zealand shot putter Tom Walsh says he is ready for the massive challenge of defeating his long-time rival to win an Olympic gold medal in Tokyo.

Walsh is determined to take down American Ryan Crouser and win gold for New Zealand. Source: undefined

Speaking to 1 NEWS after arriving at the Olympic village yesterday, Walsh said he "didn't come to get second".

The Rio bronze medallist has his sights set on gold, but in his way stands his long-time American rival Ryan Crouser, who broke the 31-year-old world record in the Olympic trials with an enormous throw of 23.37m.

Walsh joked Crouser may have peaked too early.

"I'd hate to see that he peaked a bit early, that’d be terrible to see," Walsh laughed.

"No, it was a long time coming for Ryan for sure. He was the one that everyone thought was going to break it and had been getting closer and closer to it too.

"It was about time that it was broken and I’m really happy for the sport that it has broken. I'm a little bit disappointed that it wasn’t me but it’s a real push in the back and a little bit more motivation to know that in the last 18 months he hasn’t gone backwards and I know that I haven’t either, so it makes it even more worthwhile when you win."

Tom Walsh (file picture). Source: 1 NEWS

Walsh won bronze with a throw of 21.36m in Rio five years ago. Since, he has pushed his personal best up to 22.90m, recorded in Doha in 2019, and good enough for the sixth-best throw of all time.

Yet, even then that throw was only good enough for third, with Crouser and fellow American Joe Kovas finishing ahead of him. With that in mind, Walsh believes a throw of 23m is required to put himself in gold medal contention.

"Whether that’s enough to win or not, who knows, but it gives you a chance because many crazy things can happen in a shot put comp."

The 29-year-old begins his Tokyo campaign tomorrow night in the qualification round, with a throw of 21.20m required to automatically book a spot in Thursday's final.

It will be there he will chase his coveted gold medal.

"I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been in but it’s not that simple. My team behind me have done their bit. They’ve got me ready, they’ve got me in the right physical shape, they’ve got me in the right mental state, and now I've got to cross the t's and dot the i's and get it done."

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