Sunday, 16 August 2009

Event Report - Women's Shot Put Final

Valerie Vili of New Zealand secures gold in the women's Shot Put final  (Getty Images)

Valerie Vili of New Zealand secures gold in the women's Shot Put final (Getty Images)

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    • Nadine Kleinert of Germany celebrates another personal best in the women's Shot Put final

    What looked set to be a whitewash ended up being an extremely competitive spectacle, and while Valerie Vili's victory in the Shot may not come as much of a surprise, it ended up being closer than many expected. Almost too close at times.

    Indeed, despite opening with a solid 19.40m, Vili ended round one outside the medal positions in fourth. It was German favourite Nadine Kleinert who took the early lead, setting a PB of 20.06m - prompting the crowd to produce arguably the highest decibel levels ever witnessed in a women's Shot competition.

    Natallia Mikhnevich (19.66m) and Chinese youngster Gong Lijiao (19.69m) also laid down strong markers in the first round, putting the ball in Vili's court.

    But Vili registered a foul in the second round as Gong improved to 19.89m, a PB for the Olympic fifth-placer. The New Zealander looked to be in trouble. She had to respond.

    Vili was able to keep her cool, however, as she stepped into the circle in round three and sent the shot flying out to 20.25m to move into the lead. Kleinert responded soon after though with a distance of 20.20m, letting Vili know that the competition was not yet over.

    German duo Denise Hinrichs and Christina Schwanitz exited the competition after the third round, failing to make the top-eight cut, leaving Kleinert as the sole hope for the partisan crowd. But the 33-year-old German was unable to improve in the final three rounds.

    Vili, meanwhile, wrapped up the title in the fifth with a 20.44m effort - her fourth best ever. Game, shot, match.

    Russia's Anna Avdeyeva proved her 20m+ PB earlier in the year was no fluke after throwing 19.66m, her second best to date, to finish fifth.

    USA's Michelle Carter was sixth with 18.96m, the best result by an American in a World Championship final for 12 years. Li Meiju of China (18.76m) and Misleidys Gonzalez of Cuba (18.74m) made up the top eight.

    And although the medallists were stopped mid way through their lap of honour to allow an historic men's 100m final to take place, it did not dampen the spirits of Vili, who made a small piece of history of her own, becoming the first New Zealander to win more than won world title.

    Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF