Anita Wlodarczyk at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games (Getty Images / AFP) © Copyright
Report Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Report: women's hammer qualifying – Rio 2016 Olympic Games

In tough qualification session which saw only three women achieve the automatic standard of 72.00m somewhat predictably the world champion and world record holder Anita Wlodarczyk stood head and shoulders above her rivals.

Unbeaten since June 2014 the towering Pole appeared to be well under control when hurling the hammer out to a distance of 76.93m, rather shy of her season’s best of 80.28m but still in excess of what any other athlete in the world has thrown this year and the longest throw ever in an Olympic Games qualifying competition.

Prior to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, Wlodarczyk was one of the warmest favourites of any athletics event and, if anything, her standing as the likely gold medal winner has hardened after a dominant qualification session.

Slightly surprisingly the next best thrower in Group A was the 30-year-old Venezuelan Rosa Rodriquez, who achieved her automatic standard with her third and final effort of 72.41m.

It was a performance which should fill the Pan American champion with confidence ahead of Monday morning’s final.

Rodriquez is hardly an unknown quantity after winning the Pan American Games and South American titles last year, as well as reaching the final of the IAAF World Championships Beijing 2015, but her odds have shortened on her picking up a surprise medal.

Best of the rest in the first group was Moldova’s Zalina Margheiva (71.72m) and USA’s Deanna Price (70.79m).

Slightly less convincingly, as it needed a final throw of 70.30m to ensure a safe passage through to the final was France’s Alexandra Tavernier, the 2015 world bronze medallist, although the latter will be pleased to have negotiated the qualifiers safely after three fouls at the same stage of the European Championships last month.

Zheng Wang, who has placed fourth and fifth at the past two world championships was also well-down on her best but a second attempt of 70.60m was good enough for the Chinese thrower to advance.

Her compatriot Zhang Wenxiu struggled with her opening two attempts in Group B but sent her third round effort out to 73.58m to lead that pool and become the only automatic qualifier.

Former world champion and world record holder Betty Heidler was far less impressive but qualified with her first throw of 71.17m.

On a night when only modest distances a fraction over 70 metres were required to progress, the one major casualty was 2016 European bronze medallist Hanna Skydan. The 24-year-old World University Games champion has set a pair of Azerbaijani records this year, nudging her PB up to 73.87m, but found 70.09m insufficient to make the final.

Steve Landells for the IAAF