A vociferous crowd inside the Daegu Stadium were treated to quite simply the finest women’s Javelin competition in history as Russia’s Mariya Abakumova struck gold with a stunning 71.99m to shade former champion Barbora Spotakova in a classic.
To sum up the sheer quality on view, three of the eight longest throws ever took place here tonight in Korea. It was the first competition in history where two women went beyond 71 metros and also the first in which three women registered a mark beyond 68 metros.
Abakumova’s winning effort bettered Osleidys Menendez’s championship record set six years ago by 29 centimetres and it was the second longest throw in history.
Behind the Russian, Spotakova produced a quite brilliant series of throws but fell an agonising 41 centimeters shy of the Russian with a best of 71.58m. In bronze, Sunette Viljoen should not be overlooked as she set an Area record of 68.38m as the South African also produce the competition of her life.
Yet bald statistics only tell half the story and in terms of the ebb and flow of the competition. It was undeniably a cracker.
However, there was bitter disappointment for Christina Obergfoll of Germany. The world leader coming into the competition, who has largely dominated the Samsung Diamond League this season, was just never at the races and finished fourth with 65.24m. It was the also the first time Germany did not win a medal in this event at an IAAF World Championships for ten years.
The competition started with 11 women finalists following the withdrawal of European champion Linda Stahl of Germany. The first half of the opening round began in low key fashion until Spotakova - with her familiar high-stepping approach down the runway – launched the spear out to a mighty 68.80m, at the time the third longest throw in the world this year. Following the Czech was Abakumova who opened with a modest 60.38m Viljoen gave an indication as to the form she was in with an opening round 64.36m to take second.
Obergfoll made a move in round two with a 64.39m to edge just 0.03 ahead of Viljoen. Meanwhile, Spotakova backed up her opening round effort with a not inconsiderable 67.90m.
Yet the response was instant from Abakumova. With the very next throw she appeared to hit the javelin with a near perfect force and trajectory to launch the spear out to a mighty world lead with 71.25m. Viljoen then replaced Obergfoll in bronze to improve on her first round effort with 65.20m.
The competitors almost appeared to paused for breath in round three with no change to the top four. Spotakova maintained her fabulous series with a 68.64m effort Obergfoll improved her distance with 64.80m if not her overall position. Abakumova decided to pass. At half way it was Abakumova, Spotakova, Viljoen from Obergfoll. The best of the rest was Australia’s Kimberley Mickle in fifth (60.87m).
In round four Obergfoll nudged Viljoen out of bronze with a 65.24m effort – just 0.04 ahead of the South African. The top two remained as you were, although Abakumova hurled another monster throw but this time she received a red flag.
It was round five, though, that will linger long in the memory. Firstly, Viljoen moved back into bronze again with her area record of 68.38m - then the real fireworks.
Spotakova responded sensationally to the marker laid down by the Russian. The spear came down at 71.58m and she turned 180 degrees to sprint the opposite way down the runway before leaping into the air in triumph. Yet if she believed gold had been secured Abakumova had other ideas. In the perfect counter punch she hurled the spear out to 71.99m. It was her turn to celebrate and that really was that.
The final round was a bit of an anti-climax after what had gone before with no change to the top four. Abakumova, the Olympic silver medallist and 2009 World bronze medallist, had finally climbed the top tier of the podium at a major championships and became the first Russian to land this title.
Steve Landells for the IAAF