Sunday, 09 August 2009

Women's Hammer Throw - PREVIEW

Betty Heidler of Germany on her way to victory in the Women's Hammer Throw Final  (Getty Images)

Betty Heidler of Germany on her way to victory in the Women's Hammer Throw Final (Getty Images)

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    • Anita Wlodarczyk throws 75.74m at the Polish championships
    • Aksana Miankova on her way to winning Olympic hammer gold
    It’s no accident that the first night of these championships to sell out features the final of the women’s Hammer Throw, where Betty Heidler, one of Germany’s two defending champions, will be taking centre stage.

    The 25-year-old German has performed admirably this season, winning nine of her 14 competitions this year, with a season’s best of 75.83m to take the World University Games title in Belgrade early last month. But that won’t be enough to start as favourite, which might suit Heidler just fine.

    Poland’s Anita Wlodarczyk, sixth at the Olympics last year, has pieced together the most consistent season in the event, winning 11 of 13 competitions, and producing eight of the year’s 14 farthest throws, all beyond 75 metres. Her best came in Cottbus (8 Aug) just a few days ago, a world-leading launch of 77.20m, sending her to Berlin as the No. 4 thrower of all time. Her mark was also a national record, eclipsing the 76.83m set by the late Kamila Skolimowska two years ago. Momentum is certainly on the 24-year-old’s side.

    Also rounding into form at just the right time is reigning Olympic champion Aksana Miankova of Belarus. After a somewhat low key start, Miankova got back into her groove with a solid series topped by a 75.28m effort in Minsk on 26 July and extended her season’s best to 76.32m a week later.

    Slovak Martina Hrasnova has also competed consistently well. The 26-year-old has collected 10 victories in 16 outings, capped by a 76.90m national record in Mid-May, to currently stand at No. 5 all-time. She’s thrown beyond 74 metres in six meets, certainly enough to pose a medal threat.

    World record holder Tatyana Lysenko returned to competition this season with a bang. The reigning European champion opened with a 76.41m victory at the Russian championships and followed up last weekend with a notable 74.19m throw at the Russia Cup in Tula. The 25-year-old took World bronze in 2005.

    Beyond the top five, no one else has displayed consistency beyond 74 metres. Backing up Heidler will be Kathrin Klaas, who has come within 11 centimetres of her career best with a 73.34m effort this season. Miankova will be joined by teammate Darya Pchelnik (PB 76.33m,’08) who has reached 73.11m this season. Beijing and Osaka bronze medallist and Asian record holder Zhang Wenxiu of China has thrown just 72.27m this season, and remains a question mark.

    With Olympic silver medallist and former two-time World champion Yipsi Moreno sidelined this season, Cuban hopes will lie with 23-year-old Arasay Thondike who improved to 73.90m this season and also took the Central American and Caribbean championships title.

    Bob Ramsak for the IAAF