New Zealand's former world shot put champion Tom Walsh will defend his title at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games ©Getty Images

Defending Commonwealth Games champions Tom Walsh, in the men’s shot put, and Julia Ratcliffe, in the women’s hammer throw, head an 18-strong New Zealand athletics team named for Birmingham 2022.

Walsh was world champion in 2017 and an Olympic bronze medallist at Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020.

He and Ratcliffe will both be competing in a third Commonwealth Games, having each won silver in Glasgow in 2014 before going one better at Gold Coast 2018.

"I never thought as a kid that I would go to three Commonwealth Games, so it blows my mind a little to think how long I’ve been throwing and how far I’ve come," Ratcliffe said.

Also featuring in Birmingham for New Zealand will be world indoor high jump bronze medallist Hamish Kerr and pole vaulter Olivia McTaggart, who finished sixth at the World Indoor Championships in Belgrade in March.

"Four years ago I missed out on Commonwealth selection," Kerr said.

"I used that disappointment as motivation to prioritise my jumping, so to be named in the team this time around is hugely gratifying."

For the first time in Commonwealth Games history, New Zealand will have three women’s throwers in the same event at the same Games.

Joining Ratcliffe in the women’s hammer are Oceania record-holder and Tokyo Olympian Lauren Bruce, as well as Aucklander Nicole Bradley, who makes her Commonwealth Games debut after breaking the 70 metres barrier for the first time during the 2021-2022 season.

Shot putter Jacko Gill is set for his second Commonwealth Games appearance eight years after making his debut in Glasgow.

Julia Ratcilffe will defend her Commonwealth Games hammer throw title in Birmingham ©Getty Images
Julia Ratcilffe will defend her Commonwealth Games hammer throw title in Birmingham ©Getty Images

Maddi Wesche, the Tokyo 2020 sixth-place finisher, is selected in the women’s shot hoping to follow in the rich tradition of past New Zealand winners of the title - Val Young and Dame Valerie Adams.

Completing the selected throwers for Birmingham are 2018 Youth Olympic champion Connor Bell, who competes in the men’s discus, and javelin thrower Tori Peeters, who set a New Zealand national record mark of 62.40 metres in March.

On the track, sprinter Zoe Hobbs will make her Commonwealth Games debut after a season in which she has three times bettered the national women’s 100 metres record.

Her training partner, New Zealand women's 400m hurdles record-holder Portia Bing, has also booked her ticket for Birmingham eight years after making her Commonwealth Games debut as part of the women’s 4x400m relay team.

National indoor 5,000m record-holder Geordie Beamish is selected over that distance and Quentin Rew will feature in the men’s 10,000m track race walk.

Three athletes have been conditionally selected subject to meeting their criteria before the June 26 deadline - Keeley O’Hagan, who set a personal best of 1.88 metres in winning the New Zealand women’s high jump title in March, Tokyo Olympic 1500 metres runner Sam Tanner and 5,000m athlete Eric Speakman.

Athletics NZ high-performance director and Commonwealth Games team leader Scott Newman said: "We’ll head to the Commonwealth Games with high hopes given the mix of experienced internationals and several emerging athletes who will have their first test on the world stage.

"The high bar set for selection and coming directly from a World Championships, has set this team up for an anticipated strong performance overall."

The latest announcement takes the total number of New Zealand competitors selected for Birmingham 2022 to 57.