Virgilijus Alekna of Lithuania celebrates winning the discus throw (Getty Images) © Copyright
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2003 - 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 recent trend in the Shot Put has been slightly positive if one looks at what has been needed to qualify for the World Championships final: Tokyo ‘91: 19.00, Stuttgart ‘93: 19.52, Gothenburg ‘95: 19.00, Athens ‘97: 19.71, Seville ‘99: 19.83, Edmonton ‘01: 20.13 and now Paris ‘03: 20.06.

The outdoor season of 2003 also started with a real bang as American Kevin Toth in mid-April hit 22.67 – the longest put in the world since 1990. That however turned out to be an odd occurance as neither Toth nor anyone else managed to surpass 22 metres during the rest of the year. But with 28 performances by 8 different athletes being the total of 21m-throws achieved it was still a quality year.

A comparison with 2002 shows that none of the top six then - Adam Nelson, Toth, John Godina (all USA), Janus Robberts (South Africa), Joachim Olsen (Denmark) and Manuel Martinez (Spain) – managed to reach quite the same standards this year.

On the other hand two throwers on comeback trails after serving doping suspensions – Andrey Mikhnevich (Belarus) and Carl Myerscough (Great Britain) – took big steps forward. In fact their seasonal records were almost mirror images of each other. Myerscough collected several high 21s in competitive settings leading up to Paris where he missed out already in the qualification with a mere 19.51. Mikhnevich had only one local meet on home soil before the Paris World Championships final where he dominated with five legal puts in the area of 21.24-21.69.

Shot - IAAF WORLD RANKINGS - as of 15 Dec 2003  
Position - Name - DOB - Country - Points

1. Yuriy BILONOG 74 UKR 1321
2. Manuel MARTÍNEZ 74 ESP 1306
3. Kevin TOTH 67 USA 1304
4. Christian CANTWELL 80 USA 1283
5. Adam NELSON 75 USA 1269
6. Carl MYERSCOUGH 79 GBR 1263
7. Justin ANLEZARK 77 AUS 1252
8. John GODINA 72 USA 1243
9. Reese HOFFA 77 USA 1227
10. Tepa REINIKAINEN 76 FIN 1226

In 2002 the Hungarian Robert Fazekas put together a Discus season worthy of the label “the greatest ever” in its consistency at exceptional levels of performance, also in major meets held in closed Stadium-type arenas. The main challenger to that “title” was Lithuanian Virgilijus Alekna in 2000, the year he took Olympic gold.

Fazekas' balance for 2003 was only marginally inferior to that of the previous year – but still his position as the No 1 of the year was far from undisputed due to the strong resurgence in late summer from Alekna. Fazekas won everything (including four encounters with Alekna) leading up to Paris where the Hungarian threw an impressive 69.01 – but still lost!

In Paris at the World Championships, Alekna opened his throwing with 69.69 – just a few centimetres from the longest ever throw in an international championships final, and so confirmed that he was back in full force. Two weeks later he also made Fazekas be content with the second place in the World Athletics Final in Monaco.

Behind this leading duo there was a noticeable gap to a group of throwers consistent at the 65-67m-level. In an event where careers traditionally are very long and where it appears that you don’t reach your prime until your late twenties or early thirties, this group mostly consisted of well-established athletes. The main “young upward mover” on the verge of establishing himself in that group seems to be 23-years old Esthonian Gerd Kanter, even though he was eliminated in the qualification round in Paris.

Discus - IAAF WORLD RANKINGS - as of 15 Dec 2003  
Position - Name - DOB - Country - Points 

1. Róbert FAZEKAS 75 HUN 1358
2. Virgilijus ALEKNA 72 LTU 1350
3. Lars RIEDEL 67 GER 1286
4. Michael MÖLLENBECK 69 GER 1258
5. Vasiliy KAPTYUKH 67 BLR 1234
6. Aleksandr TAMMERT 73 EST 1229
7. Frantz KRUGER 75 RSA 1226
8. Carl BROWN 70 USA 1202
9. Gerd KANTER 79 EST 1198
10. Dmitriy SHEVCHENKO 68 RUS 1195


For the first time since 1990 the world got a new 84m-thrower – and not just one but three, Koji Murofushi, Ivan Tikhon and Adrian Annus! This breakthrough is the logical consequence of the trend in the last few years which has seen increasing number of athletes capable of throwing 80m.

Fittingly for the most “consistent” of all throwing events it was the three mentioned throwers that occupied the three medal positions at the World Championships in Paris. However, it was a little bit disappointing that no other thrower was capable of surpassing 80 metres in that final.

The event though continues to face problems attracting talent outside of Europe. One would have assumed that Murofushi’s example would have been inspiring his fellow countrymen to take up the event, but checking the IAAF world lists for 2003 covering all 70+ throwers only one more Japanese thrower can be found (at 73.33).

Out of the 25 throwers competing in Paris all but 3 were Europeans and out of the 50 throwers above 75 m in the World Lists, all but 7 were Europeans. The difference compared to the women is striking. 16 out of 44 female hammer throwers in Paris and 18 out of the top-50 statistically were non-Europeans.

Hammer - IAAF WORLD RANKINGS - as of 15 Dec 2003  
Position - Name - DOB - Country - Points 

1. Ivan TIKHON 76 BLR 1334
2. Adrián ANNUS 73 HUN 1320
3. Koji MUROFUSHI 74 JPN 1318
4. Andriy SKVARUK 67 UKR 1280
5. Ilya KONOVALOV 71 RUS 1251
6. Libor CHARFREITAG 77 SVK 1245
7. Primož KOZMUS 79 SLO 1239
8. Alexandros PAPADIMITRIOU 73 GRE 1219
9. Karsten KOBS 71 GER 1214
10.Péter BOTFA 79 HUN 1206

So abrupt, remarkable and incomprehensible was the very recent drop in the javelin performance levels, one would probably have concluded that there had been a rule change similar to the one in 1986 concerning the specifications for the implements.

Just compare Edmonton 2001 with Paris 2003. Two years ago it took 80.96 to advance from the qualification, and in the final you had to be content with 6th place for throwing 85.52. Now in 2003 a mere 77.24 was sufficient to advance, and without taking anything away from the achievement of 2002 European silver medallist Sergey Makarov of Russia who was crowned World champion in Paris, you got the GOLD for 85.44!!

No, Edmonton was not a meet way better than any previous edition, actually in Seville two years earlier it took 81.61 to get into the final and there it took 85.43 to get 6th.

Furthermore, the strange drop in standards had manifestated itself several times before the World Championships in August, not least in the Golden League where the event had the privilege of being the only throw with “Golden League event status”, something that one would have expected to have stimulated rather than lowered standards.

However, only half of the six GL javelin competitions saw a winning mark beyond 85 and it usually took a mere 77/78 to get into the top-8!

How could this sudden regress of the event be explained? The only explanation is some kind of distinct “generation switch” where a major part of the established elite have quit (by choice or because of injury) the sport more or less simultaneously, and has left too large a vacuum to be filled from the existing pool of youth.

At national level it is not hard to find illustrations of this phenomenom. Take Great Britain who for over a decade has enjoyed the brilliance of Steve Backley and Mick Hill. If you are checking the 2003 IAAF World Lists for British javelin throwers beyond 75m, noting the ages of each thrower you will find Backley (34 years, 85m), Nick Nieland (31y, 82m), Hill (38y, 78m), Mark Roberson (36y, 77m) and Stuart Faben (28y, 75m).

For the number one Javelin nation,  Finland, the picture at the very top did not even remotely live up to their very proud traditions - Aki Parviainen (28y, 83m), Esko Mikkola (28y, 82m), Jarkko Koski-Vähälä (24y, 81m)!

However, it still was not all-gloom in 2003 for the Finns, as they got a very good reason to look positively towards the future, as two Finnnish teenagers, Tero Järvenpää and Teemu Wirkkala, threw beyond 80 metres to move into the World Junior top-10 of all-time!

Javelin - IAAF WORLD RANKINGS - as of 15 Dec 2003  
Position - Name - DOB - Country - Points 

1. Sergey MAKAROV 73 RUS 1350
2. Jan ŽELEZNÝ 66 CZE 1336
3. Boris HENRY 73 GER 1314
4. Andrus VÄRNIK 77 EST 1232
5. Aleksandr IVANOV 82 RUS 1223
5. Christian NICOLAY 76 GER 1223
7. Eriks RAGS 75 LAT 1201
8. Peter BLANK 62 GER 1199
9. Darius TRAFAS 72 POL 1181
10. Aki PARVIAINEN 74 FIN 1176

WOMEN - Throws

The Hammer continued to produce the best results in the women’s throws this season. Again there was dramatic improvement in the number of athletes over 70m. Last year there were eight, and now 17!

The Shot particularly lacked international competition and best results were achieved in national competitions. In the end of the season there were only four athletes over 20 metres.

The Discus saw improved results too and the World Championships final was one of the tightest ever.

The Javelin seems to be really struggling after a good start with the new model a couple of years ago. In the World Championships a result under 63m was enough for a medal.

It was another standard year for women’s shot putting, with the Russians Svetlana Krivelyova and Irina Korzhanenko topping the world lists.

Krivelyova, who came to the World Championships in Paris as the world leader, had been struggling in major outdoor competitions for many years now. The 1992 Olympic champion from Barcelona had only got a bronze from the 1999 World Championships in the last six years despite being close to the top of the world lists during this time.

However, in Paris she was able to almost match her best performance of the year 20.77m (Russian Championships) and was well clear of the others to take the World title with 20.63m.

Nadezhda Ostapchuk (BLR) with 20.12m for silver and Vita Pavlysh (UKR) with 20.08m for bronze, also got over 20m with both of them recording seasonal bests in the Stade-de-France.

There is little hope for depth in the event though, 2003 saw 10 athletes over 19m, one more than we had in 2002, in 2001 there were 13, 2000 - 14, 1999 - 16, 1998 - 11, 1997 - 13 and 1996 - 17.

Shot - IAAF WORLD RANKINGS - as of 15 Dec 2003  
Position - Name - DOB - Country - Points 

1. Svetlana KRIVELYOVA 69 RUS 1287
2. Vita PAVLYSH 69 UKR 1270
3. Nadezhda OSTAPCHUK 80 BLR 1267
4. Irina KORZHANENKO 74 RUS 1251
5. Astrid KUMBERNUSS 70 GER 1215
6. Yumileidi CUMBÁ 75 CUB 1179
7. Valerie ADAMS 84 NZL 1158
8. Nadine KLEINERT 75 GER 1151
9. Elisângela-Maria ADRIANO 72 BRA 1150
9. Krystyna ZABAWSKA 68 POL 1150

Natalya Sadova (RUS) had the world leading mark of 69.38m in May, but this time she was left well out of medals in the World Championships. It was a rather high standard competition compared to others lately, with six athletes over 65m and the top three very close to each other. Also very rare, all of the three medallists recorded seasonal bests in the Paris final.

In the end it was 2000 Olympic bronze medalist Irina Yatchenko (BLR) who topped two Greeks with her 67.32m winning throw. Close behind were Anastasia Kelesidou 67.14m and Ekaterini Voggoli 66.73m.

One of the most promising athletes in the event, Vera Pospisilova (CZE), was left in fifth place in Paris, but she had most competitions over 65m during the season, a total of six.

Other news in the Discus during 2003 was that all marks made at La Jolla, California, were declared in valid because of a downhill landing area. That means that Suzy Powell’s (USA) national record and world lead from 2002, 69.44m, was cancelled from the record lists.

Overall, although the results in the major championships were a little better than in 2002, the depth did not improve as there again were only 16 women over 63m, just like in 2002.

Discus - IAAF WORLD RANKINGS - as of 15 Dec 2003  
Position - Name - DOB - Country - Points 
1. Vìra POSPÍŠILOVÁ 78 CZE 1257
2. Irina YATCHENKO 65 BLR 1231
3. Katerina VOGGOLI 70 GRE 1229
4. Aretha HILL 76 USA 1211
5. Natalya SADOVA 72 RUS 1208
6. Olena ANTONOVA 72 UKR 1201
7. Franka DIETZSCH 68 GER 1187
8. Beatrice FAUMUINA 74 NZL 1161
9. Anastasia KELESIDOU 72 GRE 1156
10. Suzy POWELL 76 USA 1145

Yipsi Moreno (CUB) and Olga Kuzenkova (RUS) were again the top two throwers of the season and took gold and silver respectively in the World Championships.

However, they saw plenty of strong competition during the season with Manuela Montebrun (FRA) closing in and last year’s World Cup winner Gu Yuan (CHN) also getting to shape after injuries, just in time for the Paris World Championships.

2001 Edmonton World Champion Moreno came to Paris as the world leader with her Caribbean and Central American record of 75.14m which she threw in July. Moreno did not fail in Paris either and in the end became a double World Champion with a clear margin in front of Kuzenkova. Montebrun was just able to edge Gu for the bronze medal.

The event took a massive leap forward during 2003. 2002 had eight athletes over 70m, but this season there were 17. The level of performances also showed even a better improvement, in 2002 there were 28 marks over 70m, but in 2003 there were 71!

World record holder Mihaela Melinte (ROM) came back to competition, but was not able to fight for the top placings in the World Championships.

Overall depth improved more than in many years, although Hammer is still a young women’s event, this year’s number were very impressive. There were 70 throwers over 65m, with only 44 last season. 2001 had 39, 2000 36, 1999 22 and 1998 9.

Hammer - IAAF WORLD RANKINGS - as of 15 Dec 2003  
Position - Name - DOB - Country - Points 

1. Yipsi MORENO 80 CUB 1293
2. Manuela MONTEBRUN 79 FRA 1264
3. Olga KUZENKOVA 70 RUS 1252
4. Mihaela MELINTE 75 ROM 1202
5. Susanne KEIL 78 GER 1194
6. Anna NORGREN-MAHON 74 USA 1173
7. Irina SEKACHOVA 76 UKR 1167
8. Yuan GU 82 CHN 1153
8. Kamila SKOLIMOWSKA 82 POL 1153
10. Yunaika CRAWFORD 82 CUB 1143


The event had another disappointing year. Last year’s world lead of 67.47m was the worst since the introduction of the new model in 1999, but this year Mirela Manjani’s (GRE) winning mark in Paris, 66.52m, also remained the world leading mark!

One thing did not alter though, Manjani only competed in four finals and came to Paris with only a season’s best of 63.13m. Of course she was again able to top her earlier marks by a big margin to take another gold medal for her collection.

But the real talk of the season was the drop in quality, only one thrower in addition to Manjani, Tatyana Shikolenko (RUS), was able to go over 65m and there were only eight throwers over 63m during the whole season.

A couple of new names were introduced to the top of the world lists, first Valeriya Zabruskova (RUS) was the early world leader with her 64.49m in early June. Another new face was 30-year-old Finn Paula Huhtaniemi, who broke the national record in the national championships with 64.90m just before Paris. However, neither of these two were able to threaten the more experienced athletes in Paris.

There was also a surprise World Junior record at the end of the season. 17-year-old Xue Juan (CHN), who won the World Youth Championships in Sherbrooke earlier, had her first 60m throw in Dalian at the time of the World Championships (60.69m), and then went on to break the record with her first throw of the competition in the Chinese City Games. Xue’s javelin landed at 62.93m, almost one metre more than earlier record by countrywoman Wang Yaning, who threw 61.99m in 1999, the first year of the new model.

Javelin - IAAF WORLD RANKINGS - as of 15 Dec 2003  
Position - Name - DOB - Country - Points 
1. Tatyana SHIKOLENKO 68 RUS 1266
2. Steffi NERIUS 72 GER 1249
3. Laverne EVE 65 BAH 1179
4. Mikaela INGBERG 74 FIN 1177
5. Nikolett SZABÓ 80 HUN 1164
6. Valeriya ZABRUSKOVA 75 RUS 1144
7. Claudia COSLOVICH 72 ITA 1135
8. Paula HUHTANIEMI 73 FIN 1118
9. Sonia BISSET 71 CUB 1090
10. Taina UPPA-KOLKKALA 76 FIN 1089