After being so long in the shadow of other throwers at major championships, not least Czech Republic’s London 2012 Olympic Games champion and World record-holder Barbora Spotakova who will be missing in Moscow because of maternity leave, Germany’s Christina Obergfoll will possibly never have a better chance of taking a global title.
This season, the 31-year-old Obergfoll has been in outstanding form and won seven of her eight competitions. Consequently, she will start as the favourite for her first major international title.
She already has the 2013 Diamond Race victory sealed after victories in New York, Eugene, Rome, Paris and London; and her only defeat came after she made a tiring dash across the border to compete at the German Championships in Ulm on 7 July, after winning in the French capital the previous night.
Obergfoll, a former European record-holder with a best this season of 67.70m from Eugene, has acquired an impressive array of medals and near-misses since she emerged as a world-class thrower in 2005 but none of them gold.
At the past four World Championships, she finished second in 2005 and 2007, fifth in 2009 and fourth in 2011. At the Olympics last year, she was again runner-up to add to her bronze from 2008 and she was second at the past two editions of the European Athletics Championships.
Her obvious immediate rival to stand on top of the podium is home favourite and reigning World champion Maria Abakumova.
After two low-key winter outings, the Russian started the serious part of her season in stunning fashion with a throw of 69.34m at the European Champion Clubs' Cup in Spain back in May and that effort leads the 2013 world list by more than a metre.
However, since then, her form has been rather indifferent although she threw over 65 metres to win on Russian soil at both the World University Games and Russian Championships last month.
Abakumova has also lost all five of her encounters with Obergfoll this summer and, despite her talent and winning in Daegu two years ago, has admitted that she has sometimes struggled to cope with high pressure situations, demonstrated by her finishing down in 10th at the Olympic Games last summer.
In addition to the anticipated two main protagonists, the only other woman going to Moscow to have thrown over 65 metres this season is Germany’s Linda Stahl.
Stahl does not have the big distances to her name that Abakumova and Obergfoll can boast of, but she has a habit of doing well at major championships and her best of 66.81m came when she won the 2010 European title.
She picked up two bronze medals last year after finishing third both at the European Athletics Championships and Olympic Games, and is the only woman this year to have beaten Obergfoll.
Australia’s Kim Mickle and Ukraine’s 2012 European champion Vira Rebryk have both thrown over 64 metres this year and so could enter into medal contention but, curiously, neither has won a competition outside their home country so far this year.
Rebryk won her continental crown in Helsinki last year with a personal best of 66.86m and is a former World junior champion as well as the World junior record-holder but has never quite rid herself of the reputation of being an erratic performer.
In addition to her Olympic disaster, when she failed to make the final in London, she could only finish third at the recent Ukrainian Championships.
Other throwers who could entertain hopes of getting a medal include South Africa’s Sunette Viljoen and Germany’s Katharina Molitor, fourth and sixth at the 2012 Olympic Games, and the pair have both gone over 63 metres in 2013.
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Phil Minshull for the IAAF