David Storl defied the odds after an underwhelming and sometimes erratic season to successfully defend the title he had won two years ago, the German sending his 16lb implement out to a season’s best of 21.73m in the fourth round to clinch the victory on Friday night.
Storl once again proved his ability to produce his best, or very near to it, on the big occasion and added to his magnificent record over the last two years which now includes two World titles, a European title and silver medals at the other two major events: the 2012 IAAF World Indoor Championships and the London 2012 Olympic Games.
US favourite and 2013 world leader Ryan Whiting threw down the gauntlet when he reached 21.57m with the first put of the competition, while Storl was the only other man to go over 21 metres in the opening round with 21.19m.
Whiting then fouled his second effort as Storl consolidated his second place with 21.24m. Canada’s Dylan Armstrong and USA’s 2007 World champion Resse Hoffa reached 21.10m and 21.12m respectively to establish the fact that the medals were likely to be decided between those four men.
Many people would have said that Whiting’s name had already been stamped on the gold medal when he produced a 21.35m effort in the third round and Storl took his turn to foul.
With the order changed and Storl now going into the circle just before Whiting, the young German – amazingly still just 23 and the youngest man in the final – chose that moment to go out to 21.73m, just 15cm short of his outdoor best which won him the Olympic silver medal, and 17cm short of his absolute best, which he achieved when he finished second behind Whiting at the 2013 World Indoor Championships.
But there was a brief whiff of drama about the attempt as the judge initially raised the red flag, but then changed his mind after bizarrely consulting with a nearby photographer whose shots of Storl's effort confirmed that it was a valid effort.
Whiting couldn’t respond and only replied with 21.20m. The pair both fouled their fifth attempts and then Storl also got the red flag in the last round, which left Whiting with one last do-or-die opportunity.
It was to be the latter.
Whiting finished his series with 21.22m to leave him with the silver medal and, most likely, a sense of frustration as he had gone farther than Storl’s winning distance in four of his seven outdoor competitions this summer before his arrival in the Russian capital, and twice exceeded 22 metres including a personal best of 22.24m at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Doha.
Armstrong took the bronze medal behind the leading pair when he reached a season’s best 21.34m in the fifth round as Hoffa was unable to improve on his second effort during the rest of the competition.
Down in sixth place, Poland’s two-time Olympic champion Tomasz Majewski produced a season’s best of 20.98m but is still clearly just slightly short of his best form after shoulder surgery during the winter.
Phil Minshull for the IAAF