World record-holder Betty Heidler was the major casualty of a high-quality qualification session, which brought a premature end to the competition for several prominent names.
Heidler, who came into this competition boasting a perfect eight out of eight competitive record this season, appeared to lack any zip from the outset. A modest, for her, opener of 68.83m was as good as it got for the three-time World Championships medallist.
The flame-haired thrower looked downbeat after a second-round throw of 66.41m and feeling the pressure of potential elimination she could only summon a foul with her final throw. She placed a miserable 18th in qualification. Down and out.
Among the other high profile non-qualifiers was the 2008 Olympic champion Aksana Miankova of Belarus, who could only muster a best of 66.65m to trail back in 22nd.
Just one place ahead of her was the 2009 World bronze medallist Martina Hrasnova, who will also play no further part in the competition. The 11-times Slovakian champion has been a little below par this season, and a best throw of just 68.00m brought an abrupt end to her competition.
So with a number of World and Olympic medallists falling by the wayside it was reassuring that one World champion – of the 2009 vintage – did make it. Poland’s Anita Wlodarczyk launched the Hammer out to a massive 76.18m in round one – the longest ever qualification throw at a World Championships and the fifth-best throw in the world this year.
Also advancing automatically from pool B with 73.89m was Russia’s Oksana Kondrateva, the daughter of men’s World Hammer record-holder Yuriy Sedykh, and the Asian champion Wang Zheng from China, who set a personal best of 73.17m.
Her compatriot, the two-time World bronze medallist Zhang Wenxiu, also will take her place in the final as she finished top of the pile in pool A. The Chinese athlete has not really fired this season but chose the Luzhniki Stadium to produce a 2013 best of 75.15m
The pre-event favourite and defending champion Tatyana Lysenko survived a first-round wobble to also comfortably advance. The 2012 Olympic gold medallist smashed the Hammer into the cage with her first effort, but found her groove with the second attempt throwing an easy-looking 74.60m to take her place in Friday evening’s final.
Her compatriot, the European bronze medallist Anna Bulgakova, had struggled through the first two rounds but exploded into life with a final effort of 74.83m.
A full complement of four Russian athletes progressed with Gulfiya Khanafeyeva throwing 72.47m to place seventh best overall in qualification.
Another notable qualifier was three-time former World champion Yipsi Moreno, who was making a record-breaking seventh World Championships appearance in the women’s Hammer. The 32-year-old Cuban’s best of 71.69m was enough to secure her the unprecedented status of making her sixth World Championships final.
Steve Landells for the IAAF