Tomas Walsh competing in the shot put in Sopot ()Tomas Walsh competing in the shot put in Sopot () © Copyright

Introducing Tomas Walsh

New Zealand's 22-year-old shot putter Tom Walsh was one of Sopot 2014's surprise medallists, throwing a final round 21.26m for bronze. Here are nine things you should know about the next big thing.

1. Son of Timaru

Tomas Walsh was born and raised in Timaru, on New Zealand's south island. The city has a population of just 27,000 but a rich Olympic history. The 1936 Olympic 1500m champion Jack Lovelock hailed from Timaru, as does the Atlanta 1996 double Olympic swimming champ Danyon Loader.

2. Junior warning shot

Walsh enjoyed an impressive junior career, finishing sixth in the shot put at the Bressanone 2009 World Youth Championships, aged 17.

3. Solid foundations

As well as training to win a world indoor medal, Walsh works 30 hours a week as a builder. He says he has two jobs – building and shot put – and credits his time on the building site for keeping him fit and developing his "real strength".

4. Handy with a bat

Walsh was an outstanding cricketer, excelling as a batsman, and good enough to win a scholarship in the UK for a year. He once flew out from New Zealand with his cricket-crazy family to attend the Boxing Day Ashes Test match between Australia and England.

Tom Walsh in the shot put at the 2014 IAAF World Indoor Championships in Sopot (Getty Images)

Kiwi surprise: Walsh won a dramatic bronze medal with his final throw in Sopot.

5. Val's pal

Last summer, Walsh spent time training in Switzerland with legendary Kiwi shot putter Valerie Adams and her coach Jean-Pierre Egger. Ahead of the world indoors, he spent ten days preparing at their Biel training base. He describes the opportunity as "a privilege".

6. He was only 1cm from Moscow

Tom missed out on the B qualification standard of 20.10m for last year’s Moscow 2013 World Championships by an agonising 0.01m, when he threw a then personal best 20.09m in Notwil, Switzerland. Earlier in the season he had thrown 20.07 in Ried, Austria. As Val Adams said afterwards, "why the hell didn’t you throw 20.10m?"

7. He once lost a bet to Queen Val

During his training camp last summer, Walsh took on Adams in a shot put competition using each other's techniques. With Walsh using a 7.26kg shot, and Adams a 4kg – he used the glide technique (he's normally a rotational thrower) and Adams the rotational (she's usually a glider!).

With a throw of 16m-something, he led for the first two rounds before Queen Val launched the shot out to 17.40m! Walsh paid for dinner that night.

8. Pioneering quadrathlete

Tom Walsh and his father, Peter, have been instrumental in setting up an annual quadrathlon competition which involves shot, discus, hammer and a 50m sprint. The event, which took place in Christchurch this year, brings together New Zealand’s top throwers. Walsh has shown decent pace, recording in the mid six-second range over 50m.

9. Dude can EAT

In a recent blog he wrote of losing to training partner Damien Birkinhead by seven burritos to six in a 3kg burrito eating challenge. In another challenge, he ate a 1kg burger, 600g of chips and 400g of mixed veg.