Olympic gold medallist in NZ athletics squad for CWG

Olympic gold medallist in NZ athletics squad for CWG Wellington: Beijing Olympics gold medallist and reigning world champion shot-putter Valerie Vili was on Friday named in New Zealand's first batch of athletes for this year's Commonwealth Games in New Delhi.

"Beijing medallists Nick Willis (1500m) and Valerie Vili (shotput) are confirmed for the October event as is double Commonwealth gold medallist Beatrice Faumuina (discus). Beijing Olympians Stuart Farquar (javelin), Adrian Blincoe (5000m) and Rebecca Wardell (heptathlon) are in the initial line-up as is Beijing Paralympian Jessica Hamil (F34 shotput)," New Zealand Olympic Committee said in a statement.

The 26-year-old Villi holds the New Zealand, Oceanian and Commonwealth records for the shot put with a personal best of 21.07m.

She is a two-time Commonwealth Games gold-medallist fetching the top honours in the 2002 and 2006 editions of the event.

NZOC Secretary General Barry Maister said the first batch of athletes to the team are strong medal prospects.

"Athletics is a high profile Commonwealth Sport and we've got a strong team heading to Delhi," he said.

"Legends like John Walker and Peter Snell are born at the Commonwealth Games and I am excited to see what athletes like Vili and Willis will achieve in Delhi. These household names are joined by younger athletes who have exciting futures ahead of them and the Commonwealth Games are where it all begins," he added.

Athletics is traditionally a strong sport for New Zealand at the Commonwealth Games and since 1930, the Kiwis have won 117 medals at the event.

The next batch of Kiwi athletes is expected to be named by the end of next month. Team coaches and support staff selection announcements will be made later this month.

The NZOC also named a twelve-strong gymnastics team to the Commonwealth Games.

The five men and seven women are led by the men's artistic team. The most experienced in the team is Mark Holyoake, who is aiming for his third Commonwealth Games and currently holds a Guinness record for the most circles in a minute on a pommel horse.

Women are represented in both artistic and rhythmic gymnastics and all selected athletes.

The Commonwealth Games are scheduled October 3 to 14 in the Indian capital.

The Athletics Teams: Valerie Vili (Shot Put), Nick Willis (1500m), Adrian Blincoe (5000m), Brent Newdick (Decathlon), Nikki Hamblin (800m/1500m), Andrea Miller (100mH), Beatrice Faumuina (Discus), Elizabeth Lamb (High Jump), Monique Williams (200m), Rebecca Wardell (Heptathlon), Stuart Farquhar (Javelin), Jessica Hamill (F34 shotput).