The towering Tatyana Lysenko sent the home fans into ecstasy by mounting a thrilling defence of her title courtesy of the second-longest throw in history and a championship record inside a rocking Luzhniki Stadium.
Lysenko, the Olympic champion, had to be at her absolute best to edge Anita Wlodarczyk – who smashed the Polish record for silver with the fifth-longest throw ever – in what will go down as the greatest women’s Hammer competition we have ever witnessed.
Zhang Wenxiu of China, with a season’s best of 75.58m, secured her third World bronze, one place ahead of her countrywoman Wang Zheng, who set a personal best of 74.90m having gone into the final ranked the 12th best thrower.
The first round plodded along with little to stir the senses until the defending champion stepped into the ring. Nine throwers had taken their turn in the circle before her with Jeneva McCall of the USA the pick of the bunch with a relatively modest 72.33m.
Cue Lysenko. The Russian powered the hammer out to a formidable opener of 77.58m – the second longest throw in World Championship history – to take an early grip on the competition.
Zhang hit 74.62m with the final throw of the round to shift into silver after the opening vista.
After a relatively low-key first round – Lysenko and Wenxiu apart – the competition stepped up a notch in round two.
Yipsi Moreno, the three-time World champion from Cuba appearing in a record-breaking seventh World Championships final, nudged herself up to fifth with a season’s best of 74.16m.
However, the significant mover was Wang, the Asian champion, whose 74.90m effort catapulted her into silver. The 25-year-old had set a PB of 73.17m in qualification and her second-round effort was further evidence of her rich vein of form.
Wlodarczyyk had an improved second throw of 74.21m to creep closer to the medal picture in fourth.
Yet this competition was already having the look of a Lysenko demonstration and her second-round effort of 77.33m proved again she would take some beating.
Already at this point of the competition, all 12 women had surpassed 70 metres – a feat that had never happened before.
After a couple of rusty throws, Wlodarczyk, who had set a World record when winning the 2009 World title, finally hit her straps. Responding to the gauntlet thrown down by her erstwhile Russian rival, she registered a mighty 77.79m to take a narrow lead. Game on.
Lysenko could ‘only’ produce 76.34m in round three and would now have plenty to ponder at the halfway stage about how to wrestle back the gold medal position.
Zhang, meanwhile, had dislodged her countrywoman Wang from third with 75.08m.
Russia’s tattooed Anna Bulgakova also made good progress, moving up to fifth overall with 74.62m.
At halfway the US duo Amanda Bingson and McCall alongside Bianca Perie of Romania and Russia’s Gulifiya Khanafeyeva departed the competition as the field was pared down to the final eight.
An intriguing first three rounds then exploded into life in the fourth vista. Zhang solidified her position in bronze by adding 0.50m to her best with 75.58m.
Yet it was Lysenko, roared on by a fanatical home crowd, who produced the moment of the round. Her monster throw of 78.80m – eclipsing Wlodarczyk’s championship record of 77.96m set at the Berlin edition four years ago – regaining the lead. She then gave a bow to all corners of the stadium in recognition of their support.
The question was how could the Pole respond? And like a grizzled old prizefighter she came out punching, launching the hammer out to a national record 78.46m – not good enough for the lead but enough to make Lysenko believe this title was far from in the bag.
In round five Lysenko’s incredible series was maintained with a 76.90m effort but there was no change to the overall picture as Wlodarczyk could summon only a 72.85m effort.
The final round proved anti-climatic. Lysenko appeared to lose her balance on release and could only register 74.49m, her worst throw of the competition. Wlodarczyk looked tentative in the circle and as soon as the Hammer hit the ground – it was registered moments later as 71.39m – the home crowd roared their approval as Lysenko was confirmed as the champion, again.
Steve Landells for the IAAF