Krisztian Pars’ final round 82.45m in the Hammer Throw, the second farthest throw of the year, was the chief highlight as the inaugural nine-meeting Slovenian Grand Prix (Wed 13) concluded in front of a near-capacity crowd at Kladivar Stadium in the northeast city of Celje.
After a pair of fouls, the 24-year-old Hungarian put together what was certainly the finest series of his career: an 80.64 heave in the third round, 81.14 in the fourth, a near-PB 81.30 in the fifth, before reaching beyond the 82 metre mark for the first time with his final throw.
Fifth at the 2004 Olympics and a finalist at the World Championships in Helsinki last season, Pars got off to a slow start this year, slowed by a back injury late last winter. He bounced back steadily over the course of the summer, first reaching a PB 81.35 in early July before finishing sixth at the European Championships last month. He was third in Stuttgart last weekend, but believes that he could have finished significantly better had he displayed today’s form last weekend.
I’ve had some technical difficulties in the past,” said Pars, “but today things went pretty well.” Pars explained that the major technical problem he encountered lied in the positioning of the implement as he began his first spin. “I would have thrown much better if I had this problem fixed before the World Athletics Final.”
Slovenia’s Primoz Kozmus, eighth last week in Stuttgart, was second here, reaching 78.41, With Croatia’s Andris Haklits third (74.38). All three bemoaned the fact that few competitive opportunities existed for their event at most international meetings, and offered a few concrete suggestions to help remedy the situation.
To deem the event safe for spectators and competitors during a meeting’s main programme, Pars said, “It would only take extending the cage two or three metres.” Added Haklits, a two-time Olympian, “Women are throwing nearly far as men now, and they seem to have more opportunities. Kozmus said that if his event isn’t included more often, it’s in danger of becoming increasingly irrelevant. “Kids and young athletes will never know that the event is even contested.”
4:29.58 national record for Ceplak
Competing on her home track, World Indoor 800m record holder Jolanda Ceplak promised to end her shortened season with an assault on the national record in the mile. With a quartet of 67 to 68 second laps, the Olympic bronze medallist succeeded, reaching the line in 4:29.58. The previous record, 4:33.00, was set by Helena Javornik in Linz nine years ago.
“I was happy with the run,” said Ceplak, who confirmed that she will begin concentrating specifically on the 1500 beginning next season. “With no training for this though, it was a little difficult to gauge my rhythm.” Sonja Roman paced Ceplak through the first 1000 metres before she was was left on her own. But she wasn’t alone for long.
After the race, Ceplak was presented with an enormous birthday cake to help celebrate her 30th birthday, albeit a day late. At the invitation of Ceplak, double Olympic champion Kelly Holmes attended the meeting as a special guest, spending the day meeting with young athletes and helping with the birthday festivities.
In the women’s Triple Jump, recently-naturalized Slovenian Marija Sestak ended her season on a high note, reaching a personal best 14.53 (+1.5) in the first round to steal the limelight from national record holder Anja Valant, the 2000 Olympic finalist who formally retired from the sport at her home stadium.
Winding down her season, Danijela Grgic, Croatia’s World junior champion in the 400, won the 400 handily in 52.93, well ahead of Brigita Langerholc (53.35). Tina Sutej, Slovenia’s World Junior silver medallist in the Pole Vault, won her event with a 4.20 leap, just shy of her national junior record-equalling leap in Beijing leap.
Elsewhere, Matic Osovnikar, the 100m bronze medallist at the European Championships, won the 100 in 10.33 over Jan Zumer (10.41); Pia Tajnikar, Merlene Ottey’s training partner, won the 100 in 11.88; and Andrej Poljanec won the men’s pole vault with a 5.50 clearance, before bowing with three attempts at a would-be national record 5.62.
Bob Ramsak for the IAAF