Robert Harting may have recently succumbed to his first defeats since 2010, but the 2009 and 2011 World champion will still be the man to beat as he goes in search of his third consecutive title.
The German is currently also the reigning Olympic and European champion, having won those respective titles in London and Helsinki last summer, and remains a model of high-level consistency.
He has thrown over 67 metres in six of his seven competitions this year, the only one falling below that was when he could only reach 64.25m in dreadful conditions at the European Team Championships in Gateshead.
In fact, he has been over 69 metres in two of his contests, winning at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Eugene on 1 June with 69.75m and then improving his season’s best to 69.91m the next weekend at the IAAF World Challenge meeting in Hengelo.
Unfortunately for Harting, the latter meeting also saw him suffer his first defeat for nearly three years and his 35-meeting winning streak come to an end as Poland’s 2010 European champion Piotr Malachowski launched his implement out to a massive 71.84m, the seventh best performance ever.
Later in June, Harting was also defeated at the IAAF World Challenge meeting in Ostrava, his young compatriot Martin Weirig beating him by 36cm with a season’s best of 67.49m to press his own Moscow medal credentials after finishing sixth in London.
Malachowski, the 2009 World Championships silver medallist behind Harting but ninth and fifth respectively at the last World Championships and London 2012 Olympic Games, suffered a dip in form immediately after his massive effort in Hengelo but has regained his poise in the last five weeks and will go to Moscow undefeated in his last three competitions, including a good win of 67.35m at the IAAF Diamond League in London.
Immediately behind Malachowski and Harting on the 2013 world lists are two Australians: Benn Harradine and Julian Wruck, both of whom have gone over 68 metres this year, the former setting an Oceania record of 68.20m.
The pressure will be on both of them. Harradine won the 2010 Commonwealth title but has sometimes struggled to find his best form when it counts while Wruck, still only 22 and the 2010 World junior bronze medallist, will be looking to redeem himself after performing poorly at the 2012 Olympic Games and not making the final.
Coincidently, Australia has never won a World Championships medal in the men’s Discus, although Dani Samuels won the women’s title in 2009.
In contrast to Harradine and Wruck, Iran’s Eshan Hadadi did impress in London and got his country’s first ever Olympic medal in the sport. After his bronze medal at the 2011 World Championships, he will be looking for his third consecutive trip to the podium in as many years at a global event.
With so many of the top performers in this discipline at every important meeting on the international circuit, Hadadi not been making many headlines this year and his best of 66.98m came when finishing third in Ostrava but he’s a proven performer when it counts.
Never usually out of the reckoning either are the two big men from the Baltic: Lithuania’s 2000 and 2004 Olympic champion Virgilijus Alekna, and his Estonian successor in 2008 Gerd Kanter. The pair were fourth and third respectively in London last summer.
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Phil Minshull for the IAAF