YearEnder: THROWS

2005 - End of Year Reviews - THROWS
Saturday 24 December 2005
In the second part of their eight edition review of the highlights of the 2004 Athletics year, A. Lennart Julin and Mirko Jalava survey the THROWS.

MEN - Throws

Shot Put
The Men’s Shot Put season started as usual, with big marks early from the United States. John Godina was the indoor leader with his 21.83m winning mark from the US Indoor Championships. The 33-year-old American continued outdoors as well throwing a personal best and world leading 22.20m distance in Carson in May and added a 21.93m winning mark in Stanford a week later. But that was it for Godina as he barely made it to the World Championships after finishing third in the US Championships at 20.99m and was then eliminated in Helsinki with a 19.54m qualifying performance.

Osleidys Menendez of Cuba celebrates breaking the Javelin World record
(Getty Images)

Countryman Adam Nelson had a very different season. He did throw his best indoor mark of his career in Boston in January at 21.66m, but the outdoor season started quietly. He only registered his first mark over 21m in New York in June when he won with 21.58m against Godina’s 21.40m. Nelson then finished second in the US Championships with 21.52m and in Helsinki hit the big one with his first round effort of 21.73m. Nelson followed his first major title with another big win with a season’s best of 21.92m in the World Athletics Final in Monaco in September.

The biggest new name of the season was 24-year-old Dutch Rutger Smith. The 2000 World Junior Champion, who didn’t qualify for the final in the 2004 Olympics or the 2003 World Championships, set a personal best of 21.41m in July and then took a surprise silver medal in Helsinki throwing 21.29m on his first attempt and added two other 21m throws later in the competition.

In 2005 there were only 23 athletes over 20.50m, in 2004 we had 30 and 22 in 2003. United States is a clear number one country with 23 athletes in the world top 100, Finland is the surprising number two at eight with Germany and Russia tied for third at seven.

Men’s Shot Put - IAAF WORLD RANKINGS - as of 12 Dec 2005
Position - Name - DOB - Country - Points

  1. Joachim OLSEN 77 DEN 1332
  2. Adam NELSON 75 USA 1332
  3. Reese HOFFA 77 USA 1318
  4. Christian CANTWELL 80 USA 1310
  5. Ralf BARTELS 78 GER 1293
  6. Rutger SMITH 81 NED 1274
  7. John GODINA 72 USA 1274
  8. Yuriy BILONOH 74 UKR 1255

Discus Throw

Gerd Kanter was the first to break the 70m limit in April in Chula Vista with an Estonian record of 70.10m. Although that was Kanter’s best mark of the season, he had a high quality campaign competing 23 times with six competition over 68m. Kanter led the World Championships final in Helsinki until the last round when double Olympic champion and reigning World champion from Saint-Denis 2003, Virgilijus Alekna, overtook him with his 70.17m winning mark.

Kanter was unable to beat Alekna in their 12 competitions, but the commanding Lithuanian was finally beaten nine days after the Helsinki final at the Kadriorg stadium in Tallinn by Frantz Kruger (RSA), who was able to throw 6cm further than Alekna with their efforts being 65.97m and 65.91m respectively. Alekna had won 12 straight competitions from the start of the season before the Tallinn meeting and scored 19 wins in 20 competitions during the 2005 season. The 200cm tall Alekna now has 11 career competitions over 70m.

In 2005 there were 21 athletes over 65m with 23 in 2004 and 16 in 2003. United States is the top country with 16 athletes in the world top 100, Finland and Russia tied for the second spot at six apiece.

Men’s Discus Throw - IAAF WORLD RANKINGS - as of 12 Dec 2005
Position - Name - DOB - Country - Points

  1. Virgilijus ALEKNA 72 LTU 1408
  2. Gerd KANTER 79 EST 1342
  3. Aleksander TAMMERT 73 EST 1274
  4. Frantz KRUGER 75 RSA 1260
  5. Zoltán KŐVÁGÓ 79 HUN 1252
  6. Mario PESTANO 78 ESP 1242
  7. Jason TUNKS 75 CAN 1223
  8. Michael MÖLLENBECK 69 GER 1223

Hammer Throw

It was all about the Belarus throwers in the Hammer. Ivan Tikhon and Vadim Devyatovski together recorded the nine best competitions and also shared the top medals in Helsinki. Tikhon arrived in Helsinki as the reigning World champion and world leader with his huge 86.73m throw from the National Championships.

However, Tikhon, who only missed Yuriy Sedykh’s world record of 86.74m by one centimetre with that 2005 leading mark, was in trouble in Helsinki, not achieveing a result his third throw in the final. But after the deadlock was broken, Tikhon tossed an 83.89m winning throw in the next round the retain his title from Saint-Denis. The world all-time number two competed nine times in 2005, winning all of his competitions.

Vadim Devyatovski was a clear second, he threw a big personal best of 84.90m in Minsk in July and then backed up that result with his silver medal result of 82.60m in Helsinki, with four throws over 80m in the series.

In 2005 there were 25 athletes over 78m with 30 in 2004 and 36 in 2003. Belarus is also the number one country in the event with 12 athletes in the world top 100, Russia has ten with Ukraine and United States tied at seven for third place.

Men’s Hammer Throw - IAAF WORLD RANKINGS - as of 12 Dec 2005
Position - Name - DOB - Country - Points

  1. Ivan TIKHON 76 BLR 1341
  2. Vadim DEVYATOVSKIY 77 BLR 1318
  3. Olli-Pekka KARJALAINEN 80 FIN 1263
  4. Szymon ZIÓŁKOWSKI 76 POL 1262
  5. Krisztián PARS 82 HUN 1242
  6. Markus ESSER 80 GER 1229
  7. Ilya KONOVALOV 71 RUS 1223
  8. Libor CHARFREITAG 77 SVK 1216

Javelin Throw

28-year-old Estonian Andrus Värnik bettered his silver medal from Saint-Denis 2003 and winning the World Championships in Helsinki with a 87.17m throw, but Tero Pitkämäki was still the talk of the season in the men’s Javelin Throw.

The Finn, who will be 23 years old just before Christmas, was not a factor prior to the 2005 season, but quickly made sure others knew who he was. Pitkämäki, who had grabbed eighth place in the 2004 Olympics and had not bettered 85m before this season, went on to record seven competitions over 87m and three beyond 90m. Pitkämäki had only lost twice prior to Helsinki, finishing second on both occasionsi, but was unable to perform in the Helsinki rain where he could only reach fourth. The surprising loss, however seemed to make him stronger. Only five days after the Helsinki final he competed in Seinäjoki beating Värnik’s winning mark three times with a best of 88.61m and then went on to win the Weltklasse meeting in Zürich at 88.71m. The young Finn later added big wins from Berlin (89.32m) and the World Athletics Final in Monaco (91.33m).

Sergey Makarov (RUS), also had an impressive season, his third over 90m with a season’s best of 90.33m. He grabbed the bronze medal in Helsinki behind the Olympic champion Andreas Thorkildsen (NOR). Although Thorkildsen did not win the major championships this time, his season was very good, reaching five National records. The best one was 89.60m in the World Athletics Final where he was runner-up.

Pitkämäki beat all the big names in head-to-head competition during the season: 8-2 against Thorkildsen, 6-3 against Makarov and 3-2 against World champion Värnik.

In 2005 there were only 19 athletes over 82m with 30 in 2004 and 21 in 2003. As expected Finland is the top country with 12 athletes in the world top 100, Germany has nine with Cuba and Latvian sharing the third spot with six.

Men’s Javelin Throw - IAAF WORLD RANKINGS - as of 12 Dec 2005
Position - Name - DOB - Country - Points

  1. Tero PITKÄMÄKI 82 FIN 1372
  2. Andreas THORKILDSEN 82 NOR 1343
  3. Sergey MAKAROV 73 RUS 1341
  4. Andrus VÄRNIK 77 EST 1262
  5. Aleksandr IVANOV 82 RUS 1226
  6. Mark FRANK 77 GER 1213
  7. Eriks RAGS 75 LAT 1183
  8. Guillermo MARTÍNEZ 81 CUB 1176


Shot Put

Tradition is a very strong force indeed in the sport of athletics: Despite the fact that it is now some 15 years since the political landscape in Europe changed an event like the Shot Put is still, as it was in the 1970’s and 1980’s, dominated by athletes from Eastern Europe and Germany. On the world list they occupy seven of the top eight positions.

This despite the fact that several of them – including the undisputed (undefeated, top-5 performances) No. 1 Nadezhda Ostapchuk – are so young that they didn’t even begin practicing athletics until the mid 1990’s.

But even if they as a group thus probably will dominate for the foreseeable future (i.e. at least another decade) they can’t expect to have the Shot Put all to themselves. Because perhaps the most exciting prospect at the moment is New Zealand’s Valerie Vili who was just 20 when she won the bronze medal in the Helsinki World Championships.

Especially as Vili’s medal was no lucky strike, but rather the logical consequence of the consistency around 19.50 she had demonstrated during the whole year. The first 20 metres put seems to be imminent and Vili is certainly ahead of the four years older Ostapchuk at this stage of her career.

Otherwise it appears that Germany is also well equipped to meet the future although Astrid Kumbernuss now has decided to end her illustrious career. With Petra Lammert (born 1984) and Christina Schwanitz (born 1985) Germany had the 1-2 at the European U23 championships and both of them were fairly consistent at 18.50 or better.

Women’s Shot Put - IAAF WORLD RANKINGS - as of 12 Dec 2005
Position - Name - DOB - Country - Points

  1. Nadezhda OSTAPCHUK 80 BLR 1307
  2. Valerie ADAMS-VILI 84 NZL 1238
  3. Olga RYABINKINA 76 RUS 1231
  4. Nadine KLEINERT 75 GER 1212
  5. Natalya KHORONEKO 82 BLR 1204
  6. Yumileidi CUMBÁ 75 CUB 1181
  7. Petra LAMMERT 84 GER 1177
  8. Meiju LI 81 CHN 1168

Discus Throw

Experience seems to remain an almost mandatory requisite for a successful discus thrower. This assumption is based not only on the fact that World champion Frank Dietzsch was 37 this summer, but more so on the average age of the top-10 for 2005 being almost 32 years with Vera Pospisilova-Cechlova the youngest at 26.

The experience demand also has the consequence of a fairly slow “renewal rate” statistically. Six of the 2004 top-10 are in the top-10 also this year with fairly similar marks, but the other four - Irina Yatchenko and the three Greek throwers Voggoli, Kelesidou and Tsikouna - obviously took at least some kind of time-out after the Olympic campaign as they dropped off the international radar completely.

With the experience factor so important it is not easy to spot the stars of the future by just browsing lists for birth years in the mid-1980’s. Perhaps the most impressive seasonal record of a theoretical U25 category belonged to Serbia and Montenegro’s Dragana Tomasevic:

23-years-old she improved her PB by three metres to 62.43 but even more significant was the competitive ability she demonstrated at major meets: She won at her European Cup match, the Mediterranean and the Balkan Games, took bronze at the World University Games and – most importantly - placed 7th at the World Championships despite being just 21st on the 2005 World list.

Women’s Discus Throw - IAAF WORLD RANKINGS - as of 12 Dec 2005
Position - Name - DOB - Country - Points

  1. Natalya SADOVA 72 RUS 1286
  2. Franka DIETZSCH 68 GER 1281
  4. Nicoleta GRASU 71 ROM 1204
  5. Aimin SONG 78 CHN 1174
  6. Aretha D. THURMOND 76 USA 1167
  7. Beatrice FAUMUINA 74 NZL 1166
  8. Olena ANTONOVA 72 UKR 1162

Hammer Throw

The Hammer Throw and the Pole Vault could be billed “twins” as they were born as championships events for women simultaneously in the late 1990’s. But while the Pole Vault was fast out of the blocks and as said appears to now have more or less reached the “maturity” plateau, the Hammer Throw has shown a completely different development pattern over the last eight years:

Here the development was somewhat “hesitant” for several years before entering into an explosive phase in 2003. This is clearly illustrated by looking at the number of throwers over 73 and 70 metres respectively each year from 1998 and onwards: For 73 metres the sequence is 2-2-1-1-1-3-6-10 and for 70 meters 2-4-5-7-8-17-20-24!

Obviously it has taken the women longer time to master the Hammer Throw than the Pole Vault and the question now is how long the current “explosive phase” will be maintained. The threefold increase in the number of 70m-throwers in just three years is so extraordinary that it is hard to imagine that the trend won’t have to weaken very soon.

But that is not to imply that the new World record of 77.06 set by Tatyana Lysenko should remain untouched for some years. On the contrary it probably will be improved again in 2006, as Lysenko herself was just 21 when she acheived her result as there is a sizeable group of other throwers within striking distance: Remember that Lysenko improved her PB from last year by 5½ metres and that there were some fifteen throwers within 5.5 metres of 77.06 this summer.

Women’s Hammer Throw - IAAF WORLD RANKINGS - as of 12 Dec 2005
Position - Name - DOB - Country - Points

  1. Yipsi MORENO 80 CUB 1283
  2. Tatyana LYSENKO 83 RUS 1260
  3. Kamila SKOLIMOWSKA 82 POL 1259
  4. Olga KUZENKOVA 70 RUS 1244
  5. Manuela MONTEBRUN 79 FRA 1232
  6. Wenxiu ZHANG 86 CHN 1222
  7. Ester BALASSINI 77 ITA 1187
  8. Betty HEIDLER 83 GER 1178

Javelin Throw

Osleidys Menéndez must already be recognised as one of the all-time greats when it comes to hitting peak form at the major championships finals: In Edmonton 2001 she won with the second longest throw in history; in Athens 2004 her opening throw missed her World record 71.54 by merely one centimetre; and now in Helsinki 2005 her opener 71.70 was a new World record!

That way of starting championships finals must be really discouraging for the other competitors but this time in Helsinki at least one of them showed no sign of dejection: Germany’s Christina Obergföll shocked herself and everybody else by improving her best by over five metres and in the process became only the second thrower over 70 with the new specification implement in use since 1999.

Actually four of the top-5 in the Helsinki final – also Christina Schwerin (DEN) in 4th with 63.43 and Zahra Bani (ITA) in 5th with 62.75 – achieved new personal best marks so it appears that Menéndez’s opening bomb turned out to inspire rather than the opposite.

And if one looks at the year list, the No 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7 and 8 all threw new PB’s in 2005. This despite the fact that their average age was 27 years! Actually the world Javelin elite is remarkably mature at the moment with two Chinese throwers the only U23 athletes among the 26 that surpassed 60 metres this year!

Women’s Javelin Throw - IAAF WORLD RANKINGS - as of 12 Dec 2005
Position - Name - DOB - Country - Points

  1. Osleidys MENÉNDEZ 79 CUB 1341
  2. Steffi NERIUS 72 GER 1272
  3. Sonia BISSET 71 CUB 1224
  4. Christina OBERGFÖLL 81 GER 1209
  5. Barbora ŠPOTÁKOVÁ 81 CZE1165
  6. Laverne EVE 65 BAH 1162
  7. Zahra BANI 79 ITA 1149
  8. Christina SCHERWIN 76 DEN 1135
  9. Angeliki TSIOLAKOUDI 76 GRE 1135

A. Lennart Julin and Mirko Jalava for the IAAF