Anita Wlodarczyk of Poland competes in the Women's Hammer Throw Qualifications on Day 12 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on August 8, 2012 (Getty Images) © Copyright
Russia’s Gulfiya Khanafeyeva, who was World record holder back in 2006 (77.26), was the highest profile casualty managing only 69.43. Also not proceeding was Slovakia’s 2009 World bronze medallist Martina Hrasnova (68.41), who took the European silver medal this summer, South American record holder Jennifer Dhalgren (no mark), Belarus’ Alena Matoshka (67.03) who has thrown 76.12 this year, and USA’s record holder Jessica Cosby (69.65).
Back to the qualified athletes, 2008 Olympic champion Aksana Miankova of Belarus struggled much in the same way as she did four years ago. In Beijing she needed all three throws to scrape into the final as the 11th of the 12 women, and again today after 69.04 and a foul she was not qualified and it took a last ditch heave of 73.10 to allow her to defend her title.
Miankova’s mark was the fourth of the automatics from the second of the two qualifying groups, with Russia’s Mariya Bespalova who has a best this year of 76.72, making the grade with a second round 73.56. Germany’s Kathrin Klaas, the 2009 World champs fourth placer, was second best in this pool with a first round 74.14, with the top mark of 74.53 going to Asian record holder Zhang Wenxiu, the 2008 Olympic and 2011 World bronze medallist.
Group A which had started the morning off an hour and forty minutes earlier was stacked with even more talent, including four women who between them have won five World championship titles. 2007 gold medallist and former World record holder Anita Wlodarczyk of Poland was the best of the pool and the day with 75.68 on her first attempt. The 2007 champion Betty Heidler of Germany who is the current World record holder, was next best but needed two releases to register her 74.44. Russia’s reigning World titleholder and another former World record holder Tatyana Lysenko was third in the list with 74.43, and the last of the four automatics came from 2001 and 2003 World gold medallist Yipsi Moreno of Cuba who pounded out 73.95 with her opener.
Wlodarczyk who turned 27 today and had the pleasure of 80,000 spectators singing happy birthday to her, commented "I feel strong. I made it in the first attempt, so have much more to give in the final. It's my birthday today so that was the first gift. Hopefully, in the final I will get the second. Tatyana Lysenko is my biggest rival now."
The four joining these eight women as the best of the non-automatics who make up the 12 athlete final are Moldovan record holder Zalina Marghieva (72.19), Britain’s Sophie Hitchon whose 71.98 in the third was a national record and drew wild applause from the crowd, France’s Stephanie Falzon (71.67), and Poland’s Joanna Fiodorow (70.48).
Chris Turner for the IAAF