Daegu, KoreaOne mighty opening effort from Matthias De Zordo earned him the World title here on a night when the defending champion, Andreas Thorkildsen, took his time to spark into life but could not match either the young German’s power or consistency.
The 23-year-old yelled and thrust out his chest after his first throw landed at a season’s best of 86.27m. Nobody could better it. In fact, nobody – not even the World and Olympic champion - could even better the second best effort of 85.51m from the man coached by former thrower Boris Henry.
Thorkildsen had to settle for silver with his fourth round effort of 84.78m, with bronze going to Guillermo Martinez of Cuba, the leading qualifier, who like De Zordo secured his spoils with an opening effort – in his case, of 84.30m.
Martinez started as he had in qualifying with a large statement of intent, hurling the spear out beyond the 80-metre line to lay down an early challenge to the rest of the field. The mighty Cuban turned to the crowd to roar his satisfaction.
Next up – the World and Olympic champion. But Thorkildsen was unhappy with his effort, turning afterwards to his coach in the stands and screwing up his face as his downward pointing hand indicated how he had not hit it right.
However, the next up after the Norwegian was patently happy with his effort as he turned to the crowd at the bottom bend and thrust out his chest in triumph. De Zordo had trumped the Cuban’s first ace, and his second effort of 85.51m underlined the depth of his ambition.
Fatih Avan of Turkey was the first to bridge the gap between the rest of the field and the two early leaders, moving into the bronze medal position with a second round throw of 83.34.
But Thorkildsen was still having trouble getting into the groove, and his second effort was 29cm shorter than his first. The competition felt like it was waiting for him to declare his true colours, but a third round effort of 80.60m was no help. So far, he hadn’t even managed to match his less than sparkling qualifiying mark of 81.83m.
When Vitezslav Vesely of the Czech Republic sparked into life in the third round with a season’s best of 84.11m which eventually earned him fourth place, it meant that the defending champion had only made the cut in the last of the eight positions to earn a further three throws, as he placed one position ahead of Finland’s Antti Ruuskanen, the people’s choice who had been given a team place ahead of the less experienced qualifier Sampo Lehtola by popular demand.
That position meant he started the final three rounds of throwing, and after waiting for the wheelchairs of the men’s 400m T53 final to pass, he prepared himself to try and put his mark on the competition.
The crowd was in ferment as he threw, having seen two Koreans earn medals, and the noise – although having nothing to do with him – seemed to lift the Norwegian, who established himself in silver medal position with an effort of 84.78m. At last the real Andreas Thorkildsen had stood up.
How would the Cuban respond? Not so well – he was clearly dissatisfied with 76.99m.
De Zordo, meanwhile, appeared to be playing a waiting game as he passed on his third and fourth throws, waiting to see if he needed to improve his mark.
When Thorkildsen fouled on his fifth attempt, De Zordo was almost there. The young German stepped back into the competition to take his fifth round effort. Could he seal the deal? It was good, but not great – 82.88m.
The door was still open. But the number of those with an opportunity to bust through it was diminishing. After Vesely had fouled out, the medallists were decided. But what would the order be?
Martinez staked his last claim, standing at the opposite end of the stadium to Blanka Vlasic as she sought to clear 2.05m at her second attempt. But failed, with the Cuban settling for bronze as his final effort reached 78.69m.
One more throw to decide – and Thorkildssen stepped up. He gave it stick – but misfired, and it fell short to 80.23m.
The German, who thus had three of the best four throws registered in the final, thus had a final flourish. It was 81.40m. It didn’t matter.
Mike Rowbottom for the IAAF