With exactly two months to go until the IAAF World Championships, the host city staged an exciting contest as part of the IAAF Hammer Throw Challenge where former World record-holder Anita Wlodarczyk beat home favourite Tatyana Lysenko.
Held on the eve of the Moscow Challenge, an IAAF World Challenge meeting, a cosy sports complex in Luzhniki served as an ideal replacement for the main arena, as the infield was being preserved for the Rugby World Cup Sevens later this month.
“Somehow it happens quite often that we go to the reserve fields, so this is nothing new,” said Lysenko. “Personally I like to compete at big stadiums, but I realize this is not always possible.”
Another disappointment was the absence of current world leader Betty Heidler. The German felt strong back pain on the day of her flight to Moscow, and after some consideration decided not to risk her health and stay at home.
But even without the current World record-holder, three Olympic champions – Lysenko, Aksana Miankova from Belarus and Cuban Yipsi Moreno – ensured it was a high-quality field.
Wlodarczyk took an early lead with 71.33m on her first attempt, and after a foul on her second throw, Germany’s Kathrin Klaas took the lead with 71.89m. But that was short lived, as Wlodarczyk responded with 72.61m to regain first place at the half-way mark.
Lysenko then edged ahead with 72.67m in the fourth round to take the lead, but again it did not last long as Wlodarczyk produced a winning 74.28m throw on her fifth attempt.
The Russian saved her best throw for the last round, but her 72.97m wasn’t enough to close the gap. Klaas, the Olympic fifth-place finisher, held on for third place ahead of Miankova (71.37m).
In total, seven women broke 70 metres. Former World record-holder Gulfiya Khanafeyeva threw 71.33m, World and Olympic finalist Zalina Marghieva managed 71.24m and Hungarian Eva Orban was just over 70 metres with 70.02m.
“I’m very happy to win in Moscow as it is a good sign before the World Championships,” said Wlodarczyk, the 2009 World champion. “I managed to throw well, in spite of the pressure coming from Lysenko and the other girls. I’m satisfied with my preparation right now, but there are two more months left – so lots of hard work coming.”
Since the 2012 London Olympics, where Lysenko took gold ahead of Wlodarczyk, the Pole has now defeated Lysenko on five consecutive occasions.
Lysenko looked disappointed after suffering another defeat, but her mood was lifted slightly when a fan presented her with a huge bunch of yellow flowers.
“To be honest, I did not like my throws today from a technical point of view,” said Lysenko. “I have competed quite a lot recently, and the result is stable – about 72-73 meters. This is not too bad, but of course I will have to improve before the World Champs.
“I know it will be quite hard for me to compete at this huge home stadium, the pressure is going to be overwhelming. That’s why I try to compete now as much as I can, travelling to almost every meeting, because only in competition you can get used to this pressure from the public. Training is a completely different thing.”
Natalia Maryanchik for IAAF