Menendez wins gold with world record
Maybe there was something in the air, but this was obviously a night for javelin throwing. How appropriate that at last, on the last night – the calmest evening of the entire championships – Finland should finally live up to its name as the land of the javelin.
Not only did Olympic champion Osleidys Menendez regain her world title by breaking her own world record – with a massive first round throw of 71.70 that effectively killed off the competition – but in the very next round Germany’s Christina Obergfoll set a new European record of 70.03, making her the second longest thrower of all time. It was five metres longer than she has ever thrown before.
This was already the best javelin competition ever. And it had only just begun.
Germany’s Steffi Nerius had laid down an early marker whipping her very first throw out to 65.96. In the end that turned out only to be good enough for bronze.
Finland’s Tarvainen got the crowd going by also exceeding 60 metres, throwing a season’s best of 62.64 for second place. But it was at the end of the round when the competition’s great moment came.
Menendez settled all questions of the Gold medal with her very first effort. Drawn to throw last of the 12 competitors, she took her customary short run-up and launched her spear out beyond the 70 metre mark – way beyond.
After a few moments wait the distance appeared on the in field board, 71.70. Game over. With another five rounds of the competition still to come the battle was already for the minor medals.
Only Britain’s Fatima Whitbread in 1987, with a completely different type of javelin, has ever thrown further to win the gold. Menendez ran to the trackside and grabbed a Cuban flag to wave for the eager photographers.
No one else in the world has ever thrown over 70 metres with the current model. No one was going to do it here. Were they?
Obergfoll’s unbelievable effort came in the very next round. Now it was her turn to jump in the air and put her hands over her mouth. She passed the next round, overcome with emotion at what she had achieved.
Minutes later Denmark’s Christina Scherwin improved her national record by more than half a metre to 62.32. Within just two rounds we’d already had a world record, an area record and a national record.
The only disappointment for the javelin-mad Finns was that at the half way stage their girl – Paula Tarvainen – had been pushed back to fourth place after initially lying second, and their old favourite, the 1995 bronze medallist Mikaela Ingberg, finished ninth and was eliminated.
Scherwin did it again in the fourth round – pushing her Danish record out by another metre to 63.43, good enough for fourth place. Nerius, who’d topped the qualifying competition and taken an early lead in the final was now hanging on to the bronze.
Obergfoll passed rounds four and five while Menendez had two more over 60, one of which was 65.53. But the positions were unchanged at the start of the final round.
Zahra Bani caught the habit in the sixth round, throwing the fifth personal best of the night, 62.75, to push Tarvainen down to sixth. The Finn had one final chance to get a medal but she’d need to throw longer than she ever had before. It didn’t happen.
Obergfoll had one last go but it was a half-hearted attempt. Menendez didn’t even bother.
It may not have been a good night for Finland; but it was a good night for javelin all right.