Gong Lijiao in the shot put at the IAAF World Indoor Championships (AFP / Getty Images) © Copyright
Preview Birmingham, UK

Preview: women's shot put – IAAF World Indoor Championships Birmingham 2018

Gong Lijiao hasn’t competed at a major indoor championships since taking world indoor bronze in 2014, but the world champion from China will still start as one of the favourites for the women’s shot put.

The 29-year-old threw beyond 19 metres in all but one of her finals during the 2017 season. If she is able to continue that kind of consistency, Gong will be tough to beat.

Like Gong, Anita Marton can never be discounted. The Hungarian has won medals at seven of her eight most recent major championship appearances. She also has a knack of producing her best throw in the final round, having done so during five of her seven medal-winning performances.

The pair have faced each other on 20 previous occasions with Gong getting the upper hand 19 times. The only exception was at the 2016 Olympic Games, where Marton beat Gong to the bronze medal.

But neither woman heads to Birmingham with the top season’s best of the field. That honour belongs to Danniel Thomas-Dodd, who has twice improved her own Jamaican record this year, first with 18.46m and more recently with 19.05m.

The NCAA champion typically only competes at US collegiate meetings, but she proved her big-time temperament at last year’s World Championships, where she finished fourth with 18.91m, the second-best mark of her career at that time.

Like Thomas-Dodd, Poland’s Paulina Guba has set two PBs this year. After an 18.73m effort in Spala, she improved to 18.77m two weeks later in Torun to win the Polish indoor title. She has only once reached a senior global championships final, but she has improved notably since that 11th-place finish at the 2015 World Championships.

The medals will likely be won between those four women, but veteran Cleopatra Borel of Trinidad and Tobago, China’s Gao Yang, US champion Dani Hill and Belarusian duo Yuliya Leantsiuk and Aliona Dubitskaya should all be in contention.

Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF