This evening we witnessed simply the greatest ever competition since the new specification women’s Javelin came into use on 1 January 1999 (first World record 31.12.99). Osleidys Menendez of Cuba, the champion of 2001 and of course last season’s Olympic winner, was the victor improving her World record (71.54) to 71.70 with her first throw.
But if we believed that bolt had killed interest in this final, then we were to be happily mistaken, as in the next round Germany’s 23-year-old Christina Obergföll responded with 70.03m. That marked an astonishing improvement for the athlete who had not qualified for the final in Athens and had a personal best coming into tonight of just 64.59m!
It was of course the first ever duel over 70m with this spear, and the German became the second farthest thrower of all-time behind Menendez.
The crowd also rose to applaud a season’s best for Finnish record holder Paula Tarvainen (6th – 62.64), a personal best for Italy’s Zahra Bani (5th 62.75), and a national record for Denmark’s Christina Scherwin (63.43), while Sonia Bisset of Cuba with 61.75 in seventh, completed a deep competition over 61m.
It seemed appropriate that we let Menendez describe her World record night –
“I came to win and the (World) record came out. Thank God that I broke the World record because tonight they (my opponents) were chasing me.”
And what about the German?
“She was really impressive, as she only had 64 (personal best), and so she improved by six metres and impressed everybody but she didn’t have the ability to catch me.”
What was your strategy?
“Every time I go out on the track I try to do my best on the first throw. I cannot waste time and wait for the final rounds to win the gold medal. I try to start fast and hard.”
What were your thoughts when you saw the World record appear on the scoreboard?
“I was very happy of course but I had to realise that the competition was not over yet.”
“The competition was very hard. Probably the hardest competition I have ever had since I started javelin throwing. I just had to keep my control after the first throw and not let my motivation sag. Thankfully the German’s response helped me to keep motivated. I was never really out of focus.”
So what made the competition so hard?
“I felt some pain in my left leg, and that was a concern for me, as well as the quality of my opponents.”
And the weather? You had said at the Grand Prix meeting (25 July) here that you were concerned about the cold conditions.
“I thank God that he helped us. Only three days ago the conditions were very bad but the qualification and today went well.”
So will you now celebrate?
“No, the season is not over yet. I’ll try to heal my leg, and compete more.”
Your second World title, how does the feeling compare?
“I was of course younger then but the competition was easier in Edmonton, and like today I set the championships record (for the new spear).”
What about the Cuban team success in Helsinki?
“This is one of the best overall performances achieved by the Cuban team (2 golds and 4 silvers), and I didn’t even know about the silver in the men’s High Jump until just now. Paris (2003) was very bad but just like in Edmonton (2001) this was a phenomenal performance here in Helsinki.”
Chris Turner for the IAAF