Betty Heidler broke the world record* in the hammer today (21), throwing 79.42m in Halle, Germany.
The 27-year-old German, who won the world title in 2007, eclipsed the previous mark of 78.30m set by world champion Anita Wlodarczyk of Poland in Bydgoszcz last year.
Heidler, who claimed the European title in 2010, produced a sensational series. Her opening round 77.19m throw improved her own national record by seven centimetres, and she followed up with another near 77-metre effort, reaching 76.98m. Her world record effort came in the third round, before ending the competition with throws of 75.34m, 75.62m and 76.00m.
Heidler, originally from Berlin but who moved to Frankfurt to join national hammer throwing coach Michael Deyhle when she was 18, had shown fine form early in the year. During her training camp in South Africa she had achieved 74.72m in a competition in Potchefstroom as early as February. But there she was beaten by her German training partner Kathrin Klaas (75.30m). That mark by Klaas had been the world lead until Saturday.
In Halle, Heidler was throwing farther with each of her five attempts. And looking at the world all-time list before Saturday’s event, all of her five throws would have been good enough for a top-60 placing.
With her opening throw of 77.19m she had improved her national record of 77.12m set at the 2009 World Championships when she took silver.
“I can do better,” she briefly stated after her national record on Saturday. She then proved this in sensational style in round three, when her hammer landed at 79.42m, just 58 centimetres short of the 80-metre mark, which has become a huge goal in women’s hammer throwing.
“Breaking the national record did not come as a surprise. This was a target for me,” said Heidler, whose season's best of 76.38m in 2010 was set when winning the European title in Barcelona. But she had never thought about the world record in Halle.
“I was very relaxed, which is because I am very confident. This is because I was able to train very well. Today the weather was perfect and the spectators were superb."
"But it will take some time until I will realise what I have achieved here.”
Heidler has now catapulted herself into the favourite's role for the World Championships in Daegu, but her long-term goal remains the Olympic Games in London in 2012.
With Kathrin Klaas, who was second in Halle with 73.77m, Germany has another medal candidate for the World Championships. China’s Zhang Wenxiu took third with 73.34m.
While Heidler will look to regain her world title in the summer, another German thrower wants to defend it.
Winning the discus in Halle, Robert Harting improved his season’s best to a world-leading 68.99m, his third-best throw ever. The world champion has a personal best of 69.69m from last year. Harting had a good series as well, starting with 67.38m and then continuing with 67.49m, 68.66m, 68.02m, 68.99m and 67.17m. Compatriot Martin Wirig took second place with a personal best of 67.21m while Benn Harradine of Australia was third with 66.07m.
Canadian Dylan Armstrong continued his fine early season, winning the shot put with 21.54m from the two Germans Ralf Bartels (20.58m) and David Storl (20.56m). In the women’s event Nadine Kleinert (19.16m) beat fellow German Christina Schwanitz (18.54m).
China’s Li Yanfeng won the discus with 66.05m. Nadine Muller was second (66.05m) and Ukraine's Kateryna Karsak took third (63.02m).
Jorg Wenig for the IAAF
*Subject to the usual ratification procedures