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Preview The reigning world champion and world record

Event Preview Women Javelin Throw

The reigning world champion and world recordholder (with a throw of 71.54m in 2001), the Cuban Osleidys MENENDEZ starts among the obvious favourites. She will be looking to hold on to the title she won two years ago in Edmonton. A repeat performance would be a premiere in this discipline, which has been won by seven different athletes in the eight competitions held since the maiden World Championships in Helsinki in 1983.

However, this year, Menendez, 23, who also won the bronze medal at the Sydney Olympics in 2000, has been struggling to hit peak form. With a throw of 63.96m, her season’s best performance ranks only fifth among the entrants for the upcoming games.

The Russians are currently strong and will mount a powerful challenge for one or two medals spearheaded by Tatiana SHIKOLENKO, a familiar name for some time now at the highest level. World champion in 1995 in Gothenburg, and vice-champion four years later at Seville, she is still at the top of her game. For proof, witness her 66m throw, the best performance by any of the 24 athletes entering the event.

SHIKOLENKO will be kept on her toes by team-mate Valeriya ZABRUSKOVA who, though 13 years younger, has been close on her heels with a best throw of 64.49m and who is really breaking out on the international stage.

Cuba and Russia will not be the only countries hoping for a medal, and there will be no shortage of competition from other quarters. The German Steffi NERIUS, last year’s European vice-champion in Munich, is clearly a serious contender, with a throw of 64.4m this season. Not to forget the Albanian-born Greek Mirela MANJANI, who won the European title in Munich and is now dreaming of adding gold against the world’s best. With a year to go, MANJANI is already thinking hard about the Athens Olympics where she will be out to prevail on her native soil.