14 MAR 2003 General News

Men Shot Put Final

For the first time in meet history, all the men's shot medalists recorded puts that landed over the 21m line. There were five different lead changes during the competition, but in each instance it was one of the eventual medalists who was on top.

Defending champ John Godina of the USA, a spinner, was slow to get going, fouling his first two attempts wide right in the tight indoor sector. Meanwhile, Manuel Martínez of Spain and Yuriy Bilonog of Ukraine, using the traditional glide style, were arming their implements right down the middle.

Bilonog was the first get a 21m put, reaching 21.13 in the first round. Martínez joined him on second try, just barely slipping into the lead with a loud 21.14 effort.

Godina let out a huge roar of his own in the third round, watching his orb crash to earth very close to the sector line. At 21.23 he was now in the lead.

With the order reversed for the final three puts, Olympic champion Arsi Harju of Finland came oh-so-close to claiming a 21m mark of his own, splatting down right on the tape and scaling out at 20.96 to move into 4th.

The fifth round was anticlimactic, featuring as it did five fouls and no improvements, although Harju was close at 20.90.

With adrenaline ramped up to maximal levels, the final round featured a spate of best throws on the day. When Harju and Bilonog fouled, the three medalists were known, but the disposition thereof was still in doubt.

Martínez, his close-cropped head glistening in the glare of the TV lights, was starting a bit of a victory celebration even before his blue shot hit the ground. After the requisite wait for the measure he had good reason to celebrate for real, having slipped past Godina by a centimeter with his 21.24, missing his all-time indoor best by just 2cm.

Waving clustering photographers away, the Spaniard watched intensely as the American grabbed a yellow shot and went into his spin. When it fell short, Spain had its second gold medal in World Indoor Championships history.