Robert Fazekas winning the Discus Throw in Madrid (Getty Images) © Copyright
General News

2002 – Throws Review

In the penultimate episode of their review of the 2002 Athletics year, statisticians A. Lennart Julin and Mirko Jalava reach the topic of the throwing events.

NB. This eight edition series of 2002 competition reviews will conclude tomorrow with an analysis of the Combined events.

MEN - Throws

The throwing events unfortunately don’t seem to be very popular with meet organisers. Not even the shot putters - who in no way interfere with any other activity in a meet - are welcomed very often. This was something especially sad this year when the Shot Put was a Grand Prix event and when the overall quality was the best for several years, with a quite sizeable group consistently hitting beyond the 21m mark.

Therefore, in hindsight it is not that strange that the seasonal peak came before the main part of the international season. The US trio of Adam Nelson, Kevin Toth and John Godina produced three thrilling encounters that really captured the spectators in the Portland and Eugene Grand Prix meets and the US championships. Nelson had the series 22.51 - 21.95 - 22.22, Toth 21.78 - 22.19 - 21.53 and Godina 21.89 - 21.91 - 21.91 (consistency ....)!

Nelson’s 22.51 was the longest put in the world for 12 years, but despite that “marketing tool” his European tour only consisted of stops at Zagreb, Salamanca, Helsinki and Linz, before the prestigious late season with the IAAF Grand Prix Final and the World Cup. Nelson won both those concluding encounters to underline his No. 1 position this year.

The Europeans had one more significant meet to aim for - the European Championships. Leading up to them, Manuel Martinez and Joachim Olsen had the most impressive sets of marks, but in the pouring Munich rain it was glide technician Yuriy Belonog who best handled the adverse weather conditions.

Shot - IAAF WORLD RANKINGS - as of 17 Dec 2002
Position - Name - DOB - Country - Points 

1. Adam NELSON 75 USA 1365
2. John GODINA 72 USA 1334
3. Kevin TOTH 67 USA 1318
4. Yuriy BILONOG 74 UKR 1308
5. Manuel MARTÍNEZ 74 ESP 1283
6. Joachim OLSEN 77 DEN 1277
7. Janus ROBBERTS 79 RSA 1242
8. Justin ANLEZARK 77 AUS 1239
9. Milan HABORÁK 73 SVK 1236
10. Ville TIISANOJA 75 FIN 1235

One of the strongest impressions of the athletics year of 2002, was the brilliant discus form demonstrated by Hungarian Robert Fazekas. His overall seasonal record could very well be called the best ever in the history of discus throwing! Especially, as he produced super marks also at the major meets, even when held in rain and non-helpful wind conditions.

At the European championships, a wet and slippery ring and no wind at all, didn’t stop him from hitting 68.83m, winning by over two metres. And then at the World Cup in Madrid he let loose the longest throw ever in this kind of international championship setting, when he sent the discus flying over 71 meters and won by almost five metres!

Everything else achieved in the event this year of course pales in comparison with Fazekas’ exploits, especially as the previous No. 1’s, like Virgilijus Alekna (LTU) and Lars Riedel (GER) had below-par years. But just as in the shot put one could trace a positive overall trend, in the sense that more athletes, from more nations, are showing consistency at world class level.

A typical example was given by Spain’s Mario Pestano, who although he didn’t improve his PB, had by far his best season getting consistent in the 65 metre territory also at the major international meets (e.g. 4th at the Europeans, 3rd in the World Cup, 2nd at Zurich GL). By contrast, the Frenchman Jean-Claude Retel with his 68.90 mark (4th on the World List), was one and a half metres ahead of Pestano, but didn’t have any other known meet beyond 62m!

Discus - IAAF WORLD RANKINGS - as of 17 Dec 2002
Position - Name - DOB - Country - Points 

1. Róbert FAZEKAS 75 HUN 1372
2. Frantz KRUGER 75 RSA 1291
3. Virgilijus ALEKNA 72 LTU 1280
4. Michael MÖLLENBECK 69 GER 1270
5. Mario PESTANO 78 ESP 1251
6. Dmitriy SHEVCHENKO 68 RUS 1249
6. Lars RIEDEL 67 GER 1249
8. Aleksandr TAMMERT 73 EST 1229
9. Roland VARGA 77 HUN 1213
10. Jason TUNKS 75 CAN 1212

One of the most conspicuous and remarkable trends in recent world athletics is the rapidly rising standards in the Hammer Throw. The number of throwers consistently approaching the 80m line has grown, and as a consequence the cut-off mark for becoming one of the twelve finalists at the major championships (Olympics, World, European) has in the new Millennium made a truly big jump.

In 1992-1995, it took between 74.16 and 74.86 to get into the final, in 1996-1999 it took between 75.10 and 75.75, however, on the last three occasions it has been necessary to throw 76.61 (Sydney ’00), 76.72 (Edmonton ’01) and 77.78 (Munich ’02) respectively!! That is correct, 77.78 metres just to get into the final of the European Championships!

So although the world record of 86.74 set in 1986, has remained completely unthreatened for yet another year, the overall standards of the event reached a “new all time high” in 2002. In a situation with perhaps 15 throwers capable of winning on any given day, the two most consistent factors were European champion Adrian Annus (HUN) and Asian champion Koji Murofushi (JPN).

That both of them are 28 years old (born 1974) further underlines that this is an event, where almost without exception, it takes a number of years to complete the transformation from young talent to a senior athlete, and to consistently produce 80m-plus. The 24 years old statistical list leader Aleksey Zagorniy, illustrates this quite well: A couple of 82-83m meets early on but during the summer he mostly hit 77, although he also proved his potential by getting over 80 metres in both the Russian championships, and the qualifying round of the European Championships.

Looking towards 2003 the most intriguing question is whether the trend of rapidly rising standards will continue at the same pace, slow down, or come to a halt, or even reverse? Will it take 76, 77, 78 or perhaps 79 metres to get into the final at the World Championships in Paris?

Hammer - IAAF WORLD RANKINGS - as of 17 Dec 2002
Position - Name - DOB - Country - Points 

1. Koji MUROFUSHI 74 JPN 1364
2. Adrián ANNUS 73 HUN 1356
3. Igor ASTAPKOVICH 63 BLR 1322
4. Andriy SKVARUK 67 UKR 1312
5. Balázs KISS 72 HUN 1298
6. Tibor GÉCSEK 64 HUN 1290
7. Vladislav PISKUNOV 78 UKR 1281
8. Oleksiy KRYKUN 68 UKR 1280
8. Olli-Pekka KARJALAINEN 80 FIN 1280
10. Chris HARMSE 73 RSA 1259

The javelin throw in 2002, at the very top level was very much the year of “absent friends” because all three Edmonton 2001 medallists were severely hampered by injuries.

The winner Jan Zelezny (CZE) had a very limited season where the only positive thing was that he did manage to reach the final of the European Championships despite the injury problems that forced him to have an operation in the autumn.

Silver medallist Aki Parviainen (FIN) had his operation last autumn but still never managed to recapture his best form. Reaching the Munich final was also his most memorable achievement in a year which he will probably want to forget.

Bronze medallist Kostas Gatsioudis (GRE) had what probably could be called the shortest season ever of a world class athlete: One throw! That throw in a meet in Thessaloniki went over 91 metrse but in the process he re-injured himself, so his 2002 was over and done within a few seconds.

However, that the top-3 of 2001 were effectively missing is not to say that the event was weak in 2002. At least at the very top, Russia’s Sergey Makarov put together an absolutely brilliant seasonal record. His best mark of 92.61 metres made him No. 3 of all-time. He also had two more meets beyond 90m and averaged 88.50 for his 14 meets during the summer! In short, Makarov had one of the very best seasons in the history of the event!

The only minor blemish to Makarov’s 2002 record was that he suffered one loss: At the European Championships he threw a mighty 88.05 but still had to settle for second place, as Britain’s championship specialist Steve Backley grabbed his 4th straight European title, thanks to his season’s best throw of 88.54.

Despite Makarov’s brilliance the international javelin year as a whole was somewhat down (in contrast to the hammer year). This showed up by the fact that 79.04 sufficed to reach the Munich final, while it had been necessary to throw 79.63 four years earlier at the last Europeans in Budapest, 81.61 in the Seville Worlds in 1999, 82.24 in the 2000 Sydney Olympics, and 81.78 in the 2001 Edmonton World Championships.

The influx of new talent was obviously not strong enough to compensate for the losses at the top end. It is also remarkable to find the top Finnish thrower as low down on the year list as 14th place. Has that ever happened any time before?

Javelin - IAAF WORLD RANKINGS - as of 17 Dec 2002
Position - Name - DOB - Country - Points 

1. Sergey MAKAROV 73 RUS 1327
2. Boris HENRY 73 GER 1298
3. Steve BACKLEY 69 GBR 1270
4. Eriks RAGS 75 LAT 1248
5. Raymond HECHT 68 GER 1240
6. Jan ŽELEZNÝ 66 CZE 1233
7. Aleksandr IVANOV 82 RUS 1226
8. Björn LANGE 79 GER 1208
9. Darius TRAFAS 72 POL 1203
10. Harri HAATAINEN 78 FIN 1199

WOMEN - Throws

The women’s throwing events find themselves in contrasting positions nowadays. The shot put and discus have impossibly hard World records to break, while on the contrary in the hammer and javelin, the world mark is up for grabs because of the young age of the events - the javelin because of the new implement being used.

The women’s javelin has been quite disappointing since 1999 when the new model was introduced. It is quite surprising that the top level was already established during the first year. In fact, 2002 showed some general loss in the length of throws. 1999 already had six throwers at 66m or better, 2000 had 6 too, 2001 - 4, but 2002 only produced 2 athletes of this standard.

The Discus has lost some of it’s quality too, although Suzy Powell’s (USA) wind assisted world leader was better than usual - 69.44m.

The Hammer is still going strong as a young event should, this year there were eight 70m+ throwers, one more than 2001, where as the year 2000 had 5, and 1999, a total of 4.

The Shot put is far away from Natalya Lisovskaya’s 1987 World record of 22.63 from, but instead of those 22m marks there is a new aspect in the event: top athletes can make personal bests in major championships. In Edmonton, Yanina Korolchik (BLR) won with a national record of 20.61, and Irina Korzhanenko won the 2002 European Championships with 20.64, a season’s best, and her best mark in over four years.

Korzhanenko was one of those Russian top athletes who only competed a few times during the season. The Russian putted a lowly 17.52 in the Russian Indoor Championships, her only indoor competition, and then competed four times outdoors – all competitions over 20m, and with only one loss to Svetlana Krivelyova at the National Championships.

The world of women’s shot has really changed because previously Russian putters used to have big seasonal bests but when competing abroad were usually found far from the form shown in Russia. Now they are getting even better marks in big meetings irrespective of venue.

Although Astrid Kumbernuss (GER) and Vita Pavlysh (UKR) are still throwing, it’s quite clear that there will soon be new names at the top of the major championships. Of course, European Champion Korzhanenko is only 28 and could have many more years at the top, but there is a young Chinese, 21-year-old Li Meiju, who raised her PB to 18.95 and is the best shot putter from the once so dominant China. Li’s mentor is Asian Record holder (21.76 in 1988) Li Meisu, who also trains with her. She ended her career at the 9th National Games in 2001 still grabbing 8th place with 18.39, despite being 42-year-old at the time!

One big question mark is 2000 Olympic and 2001 World Champion Yanina Korolchik (BLR). Although, she won those two major championships and is only 25 years old, she did not compete at all in 2002.

Depth in the women’s shot put has generally been going down for a long time now. In 1996, there were 17 women at 19m or better, 1997 - 13, 1998 - 11, 1999 - 16, 2000 - 14, 2001 – 13, and in 2002 only 9 attained that level.

Shot - IAAF WORLD RANKINGS - as of 17 Dec 2002
Position - Name - DOB - Country - Points 

1. Irina KORZHANENKO 74 RUS 1278
2. Astrid KUMBERNUSS 70 GER 1249
2. Vita PAVLYSH 69 UKR 1249
4. Svetlana KRIVELYOVA 69 RUS 1238
5. Yumileidi CUMBÁ 75 CUB 1218
6. Nadezhda OSTAPCHUK 80 BLR 1195
7. Teri STEER-TUNKS 75 USA 1167
8. Nadine KLEINERT-SCHMITT 75 GER 1163
9. Assunta LEGNANTE 78 ITA 1148
10. Lieja KOEMAN 76 NED 1144

This event really didn’t have a sparkling year. Suzy Powell did throw a world leader and national record of 69.44 at La Jolla, near San Diego, California, but it was unfortunately one of those discus marks where wind was very much a factor. The American only managed to break 65m mark in one other competition, and was rather at a different level in her European competitions.

The biggest competition of the year was the European Championships in Munich, and the results really summed up a bad year for the event. A record low 56.56m was enough for 12th position in the qualification round and progression to the final. The final didn’t bring any better form, as the European Champion - a surprise one - Ekaterini Voggoli (GRE), only had to throw 64.31 to win from Natalya Sadova (RUS), 64.12.

In 2002 there were 16 throwers over 63m, where as in 2001 there were 21, with 28 in 2000, 26 in 1999 and 25 in 1998. Therefore it’s quite clear that women’s discus is nowhere near it’s best form, even when only thinking about the last 10 years.

Discus - IAAF WORLD RANKINGS - as of 17 Dec 2002
Position - Name - DOB - Country - Points 

1. Natalya SADOVA 72 RUS 1307
2. Ellina ZVEREVA 60 BLR 1260
3. Vìra POSPÍŠILOVÁ 78 CZE 1242
4. Beatrice FAUMUINA 74 NZL 1233
4. Nicoleta GRASU 71 ROM 1233
6. Katerina VOGGOLI 70 GRE 1211
7. Suzy POWELL 76 USA 1203
8. Aretha HILL 76 USA 1199
9. Kristin KUEHL 70 USA 1196
10. Irina YATCHENKO 65 BLR 1188

The women’s hammer saw some new 70m throwers during the 2002 season and Olga Kuzenkova (RUS) was back at the world’s top. Yipsi Moreno (CUB) who many thought would be the dominant force in 2002 after her World win in Edmonton bettered her personal best by throwing 71.47 in Madrid in July, but was still left back in 5th place on the season’s world list.

Poland’s Sydney Olympic Champion, 19-year-old Kamila Skolimowska came really close to win the European Championships, but was beaten by Kuzenkova in the end. Another fine European thrower this season was France’s Manuela Montebrun, the European Championship bronze medallist, who threw a massive eight times over 70m during 2002.

The biggest upset of the event came at the IAAF World Cup where the 20-year-old Chinese Gu Yuan, who won the Chinese National Games last year, was victorious with her last throw, ahead of all the favourites (70.75). Gu’s win was perhaps on reflection not that big a surprise, as she had already won the Asian Championships with a continental record of 71.10 in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Gu’s start to the season was poor, as she was troubled with injuries and could hardly get over 60 metres in her first two competitions.

Although, the hammer is still a young event, it has been going forward quite fast. In 1998 there were 9 throwers at 65m or better, 1999 had 22, 2000 - 36, 2001 - 39 and in 2002, a total of 44 throwers of this standard were produced.

Hammer - IAAF WORLD RANKINGS - as of 17 Dec 2002
Position - Name - DOB - Country - Points 

1. Olga KUZENKOVA 70 RUS 1282
2. Manuela MONTEBRUN 79 FRA 1244
3. Yuan GU 82 CHN 1243
4. Kamila SKOLIMOWSKA 82 POL 1242
5. Yipsi MORENO 80 CUB 1230
6. Bronwyn EAGLES 80 AUS 1199
7. Anna NORGREN-MAHON 74 USA 1188
8. Olga TSANDER 76 BLR 1183
9. Yunaika CRAWFORD 82 CUB 1154
10. Ester BALASSINI 77 ITA 1146

Tatyana Shikolenko (RUS) was initially the leading thrower in the women’s javelin in 2002. She won some early competitions and had many second places too. Back problems, however, made the rest of Shikolenko’s season more or less difficult.

It was not an easy year for Cuba’s Osleidis Menéndez, the World record holder, either. She was widely predicted to be one of the athletes who would surely get their share of gold from the IAAF Golden League Jackpot, but ultimately she was nowhere near winning all the competitions. The Cuban had a couple of 67m results, but mainly she had to cope with a season in the 63-64m category, which was far less than her form in 2001.

Competition or not, inside information from Greece prior to the European Championships in Munich told that Mirela Manjani was in very good shape, and that was proved at the championships with the Greek throwing 67.47m for gold and the World season lead - just 4cm off from her national record set in the 2000 Sydney Olympic final.

Otherwise, the 2002 javelin season was quite dull. There were some new names with good marks like Kelly Morgan (GBR), but she wasn’t able to repeat the good performances in the bigger meetings. The world top was much thinner than in earlier years, with only four throwers managing to break 65m. Also, the world leading mark of 67.47m, was the lowest since the introduction of the new javelin model in 1999.

Javelin - IAAF WORLD RANKINGS - as of 17 Dec 2002
Position - Name - DOB - Country - Points 

1. Osleidys MENENDEZ 79 CUB 1337
2. Tatyana SHIKOLENKO 68 RUS 1288
3. Steffi NERIUS 72 GER 1234
4. Felicia TILEA-MOLDOVAN 67 ROM 1225
5. Mikaela INGBERG 74 FIN 1222
6. Sonia BICET 71 CUB 1200
7. Nikolett SZABÓ 80 HUN 1192
8. Mirela MANJANI-TZELILI 76 GRE 1185
9. Yekaterina IVAKINA-KRASNIKOVA 64 RUS 1173
10. Taina UPPA-KOLKKALA 76 FIN 1156