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Hobbs wins in Japan; Para gold for Stedman


New Zealand sprint queen Zoe Hobbs has eased to an outdoor season-opening victory in Japan.


Hobbs clocked 11.17 seconds to take the women's 100m final at the Golden Grand Prix meet at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo on Sunday as she began her preparations for the 2024 Paris Olympics.


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The 26-year-old was cautious out of the blocks in an even start across the field. She surged ahead in the final 50m to win comfortably.


At the same competition, Tori Peeters finished third in the women's javelin with a throw of 61.26m, while Tiaan Whelpton finished ninth in his heat of the men's 100m in 10.52 seconds.


It was big week for New Zealand women pole vaulters Olivia McTaggart and Imogen Ayris, both Olympic hopefuls. The pair finished first and second at the Nick Phipps Memorial in Loughborough, England on Tuesday, McTaggart clearing 4.56m and Ayris 4.40m.


Ayris followed it up by winning the De Montreuil meet in France on Thursday, with a 4.57m effort. McTaggart finished seventh and Ayris eighth at the Diamond League meet in Marrakech, Morocco on Sunday, both clearing 4.45m.


Also in Japan, Portia Bing won the women's 400m hurdles at the 11th Kinami Michitaka Memorial in Osaka last weekend, clocking 55.72 seconds. Lauren Bruce earned third in the women's hammer throw at the International Sparkassen Hammerwurf meet, with a best of 67.15m.


James Preston won the men's 800m at the World Athletics Continental Tour Silver event in South Africa, running home in 1 minute 45.17 seconds, while Ethan Olivier, an Olympian in triple jump, clocked 11.03 seconds in the men's 100m at the ACNW League meet.


William Stedman para athletics
William Stedman held on to win the men's T36 400m para athletics world title. PHOTO: ATHLETICS NZ

In Japan, William Stedman claimed a gold medal in the men's T36 400m at the World Para Athletics Championships in Kobe.


In a personal-best and New Zealand record time of 53.36 seconds, Stedman beat world T36 record holder and defending champion James Turner of Australia, who clocked 53.52 seconds, on Sunday.


Stedman said it was as close as its going to get to a perfect race.


“I got out well and ran a good first 200m, staying nice and relaxed. Then started pushing around the bend and in that last 100m just focused on being relaxed, but in the last 10 metres my legs were completely shot, and the momentum managed to carry me through.


"I’m really happy with the way I ran that race, in those conditions and to run a PB is really cool," said 24-year-old Stedman.


Earlier in the day, Anna Grimaldi collected the bronze medal in the women's T47 100m final in 12.72 seconds.

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