Tom Walsh in shot put qualifying at the 2014 IAAF World Indoor Championships in Sopot (Getty Images) © Copyright
Preview Portland, USA

Preview: men's shot put – IAAF World Indoor Championships Portland 2016

US putters have won this event at the last six championships so there is considerable pressure on their representatives to continue this streak, especially on home territory.

In the absence of world leader Ryan Crouser, who was busy winning at the NCAA Indoor Championships at the weekend, Kurt Roberts will carry domestic hopes after winning the US indoor title in the same arena as the IAAF World Indoor Championships Portland 2016 on Saturday.

Roberts sent his implement out to a career best of 21.57m when winning at the IAAF World Indoor Tour meeting in Boston last month but was well short of that mark when he won his national title with a rather modest 20.08m.

In addition to flying the Stars and Stripes, Roberts also has some personal business to resolve with this competition.

He went to the World Indoor Championships two years ago but admitted that he got mentally overwhelmed at his first, and to date only, major international competition and failed to make the final.

Canada’s Tim Nedow won the IAAF World Indoor Tour title and was unbeaten this year until he was defeated by Tomas Stanek on home soil in Jablonec, Czech Republic

His breakthrough season includes a career best of 21.33m to win at the IAAF World Indoor Tour meeting in Stockholm last month, but the question mark over Nedow is how fresh he will be after seven competitions in as many countries in recent weeks.

Stanek lies fourth on the list of entries with his career best of 21.30m that he reached to win in Jablonec and, like Roberts, will also want to banish the memories of Sopot where he failed to make the final.

Michal Haratyk is another putter who has made a big improvement this winter and the Pole stands one place ahead of Nedow on the 2016 world list with the 21.35m he reached to win in Lodz last month to beat a classy, albeit domestic, field.

World U20 indoor record-holder Konrad Bukowiecki will accompany Haratyk in a Polish team that is without Tomasz Majewski, the first time the giant two-time Olympic champion has been missing from a global championship – indoor or out – since the 2003 World Championships.

Bukowiecki, who celebrates his 19th birthday on the opening day of the championships, will be the youngest competitor ever in this event and has in his sights an improvement on his own continental best with the senior implement of 20.61m.

In a field of relative international novices, one man who knows what it’s like to stand on a podium is New Zealand’s Tom Walsh, the bronze medallist two years ago.

Walsh has competed exclusively outdoors so far this year but has had three good wins in Australia and New Zealand, including taking his national title with 21.11m.

No African putter, man or woman, has ever won a medal at the World Indoor Championships but Nigeria’s US-based Stephen Mozia could change that statistic after an indoor season in which he’s had two competitions beyond 21 metres, including reaching a career best of 21.11m in Nashville last month.

Phil Minshull for the IAAF