30 JUN 2014 Preview Velenje, Slovenia

Pars the favourite, but local eyes will be in Kozmus in Velenje

Krisztian Pars at the 2013 IAAF Hammer Throw Challenge meeting in Szczecin (Marek Biczyk)Krisztian Pars at the 2013 IAAF Hammer Throw Challenge meeting in Szczecin (Marek Biczyk) © Copyright

An outstanding men's hammer field has been assembled for the 19th Miner’s Day Meeting in Velenje, Slovenia, on Tuesday (1).

Most of the world’s top men’s hammer throwers will be in action at the small alpine nation’s premiere annual athletics event, led by Olympic champion Kristian Pars. The 32-year-old Hungarian will arrive riding an eight-meeting winning streak and as the world leader at 81.57m from Ostrava.

Pars has lost just once in 11 starts this season. That loss came at the hand of world champion Pawel Fajdek who is also in the field. The Pole’s season’s best also came in Ostrava but at 79.65m is nearly two metres shy of his rival’s. He was a distant third at the European Team Championships, his most recent outing, with 75.26m.

After Pars, Dilshod Nazarov has been the season’s most consistent thrower. The winner in Moscow and Zhukovskiy, Nazarov hit his 80.62m season’s best in Ostrava, the second-farthest throw of his career.

Russia’s European Team Championships winner Sergey Litvinov, who has a season’s best of 78.77m, is also in the field.

Local eyes will focus on former world and Olympic champion Primoz Kozmus, whose early season training was slowed by a series of injuries. With a modest 73.02m season’s best, the Beijing Olympic champion will have a struggle to just finish in the top five.

Ratej v Stahl in the javelin

The capacity crowd expected at Velenje’s municipal stadium can expect a significantly better finish by in-form Martina Ratej in the javelin throw.

The 32-year-old national record-holder has performed well this season, collecting notable victories at the IAAF Diamond League kick-off meeting in Doha (65.48m) and in Ostrava, and with runner-up finishes at Rome’s Golden Gala and at the European Team Championships first division competition in Tallinn where she battled difficult conditions.

She’s hardly a shoe-in for the win however. Carrying the status of favourite is Germany’s Linda Stahl, the Olympic bronze medallist who reached a career best of 67.32m at the IAAF Diamond League stop in New York two weeks ago, currently the farthest throw in the world.

The rest of the evening’s programme will largely focus on regional talent chasing standards for the European Championships, with a handful of notable exceptions.

The men’s 100m will attract attention, courtesy of Kemarley Brown, a 21-year-old Jamaican newcomer who clocked 9.93 at the California junior college championships in May. Velenje will be Brown’s first race since his dash into the sub-10 club, at the time a short-lived world leading performance. Akani Simini, who clocked a personal best 10.02 to finish runner-up at April’s South African Championships, is also in the field.

Elsewhere, Botswana’s Isaac Makwala, who holds national records at all three sprint distances, and Jamaican champion Anneisha McLaughlin lead the fields in the 200m.

Germany’s Michelle Weitzel, who has improved her PB to 6.66m this year, leads a competitive long jump field of five women near or beyond the 6.50m mark this season, and in the pole vault Slovenian national record-holder Tina Sutej will square off against German Katharina Bauer.

Bob Ramsak for the IAAF