Franka Dietzsch of Germany (Getty Images) © Copyright
General News 15 March 2004 – Marsa, Malta

European Winter Throwing Challenge

MaltaThe success of any outdoor athletic meet – but particularly those where throwing events are involved – ultimately depends on two climatic conditions: lack of wind and rain. For the fourth edition of the EAA’s European Winter Throwing Challenge, 13-14 March, the Maltese weather complied only partially.

Whilst the two days were completely dry, the presence of a strong wind across the stadium was always going to hinder the overall level of the competition. However, whilst this was largely the case – no new championship records were set over the two days – it could not stop the Throwing Challenge from offering its share of remarkable moments.

A glimpse into the future

Men's Javelin -

Typical of this was the men’s Javelin that closed off the first day of competition where the top three athletes pushed each other to the limit so much that in the end all managed to record new personal bests.

Indeed, this competition offered a genuine glimpse into the future of the event.  With a throw of 82.44 metres, 22 year-old Vadims Vasilevskis managed to win the event thereby ensuring Latvia its first ever gold medal in the Throwing Challenge.  Next to him on the podium was another Latvian – Ainars Kovals – who was just 31 centimetres shy of the winning throw (82.13),.  The third athlete was 20-year-old Finn Teemu Wirkkala (80.87) the reigning European Junior Champion.

Women's Discus -

Nor was this the only closely fought event. The women’s Discus, which opened the programme, saw a tight battle between the German Franka Dietzsch and the Russian Natalya Sadova.  In the end it was the German who emerged as the winner with a margin of just four centimetres.  Dietzsch’s winning throw was of 60.32 metres which, however, didn’t really satisfy the athlete.

“My aim was to throw at least one metre farther than that,” she explained.  “However, the wind made it difficult for us.”

Gerd ‘Kanter’s’ to Discus win

Men's Discus -

Gerd Kanter, the clear winner of the men’s Discus, was of the same opinion.  “As soon as I entered the stadium I knew that it was going to be very difficult to get a very good throw.”  The Estonian still nailed a huge distance in his first throw – 83.21 metres - and held on to the lead until the end thereby retaining the title that he won last year.

“The first throw was very good.  I tried to improve on it but with the wind I couldn’t do it.  Still, my main aim was to win the event and I did it, so I’m happy.”

His nearest challenger was Spain’s Mario Pestano whose throws got progressively better until he reached the 82 metres distance with his fifth throw. Holland’s Rutger Smith got bronze with a throw of 59.84m.

Men's Shot -

Rutger Smith moved two steps up the podium in the Shot Put event where he managed to retain last year’s title with a throw of 20.32 which, however, wasn’t good enough to beat his previous winning throw of 20.52 that was also the championship record. 

The young Dutchman has a bright future in this competition and was clearly better than the rest of the field so much so that with a throw of 19.65, second placed Miran Vodovnik of Slovenia could only match Smith’s worst throw of the six that he registered.  Bronze went to Russia’s Grigory Panfilov (19.43).

Women's Shot -

In the women’s competition much of the attention was focused on star shot putter Vita Pavlysh and the Ukrainian did not disappoint.  A throw of 19.39 was over a metre better than German Nadine Kleinert’s effort of 18.17 and good enough to land Pavlysh her second gold medal in as many weeks having won the World Indoor Championships a week earlier. Assunta Legnante of Italy came third with a throw of 17.96 metres.

Women's Javelin -

In the women’s javelin, expectations were upheld as Russia’s Valeria Zabruskova (63.84) finished ahead of Germany’s Steffi Nerius (62.80). Veteran Russian athlete Ekaterina Ivakina finished third with a throw of 61.34 metres.

Pars confirms potential

Men's Hammer -

Significantly, the best results were registered in the hammer throw where the wind’s influence is minimal. Hungary’s Kristian Pars confirmed his undoubted potential by winning with a throw of 79.69m to register a new personal best.  It was clear that the European U23 champion was going to win as soon as set that mark but that didn’t stop Apak Esref from establishing a new Turkish record with a throw of 77.76m to finish ahead of Greece’s Alexandros Papadimitriou (77.13).  Albania’s Dorian Collaku also set a personal record thanks to a throw that sailed to 72.19m.

Women's Hammer -

There were similarly positive results in the women’s Hammer competition. Germany’s Andrea Bunjes emerged as the overall winner of this event when her implement landed 67.99m away from the circle.  Great Britain’s Shirley Webb registered the surprise result of the day when she finished in second place with a throw of 67.52 metres, over four metres better than her previous best.

Webb had spent the previous week training in Malta, something that she claimed helped a lot.  “It was definitely a good idea to come a week earlier as I had time to get acclimatised,” she said. 

Third place went to the Finnish athlete Sini Poyry (67.49).  There were good results for Sweden for whom Cecilia Nilsson broke her own national record with a throw of 66.35 as did Holland’s Debby Van Der Schilt when she achieved a throw of 63.84 metres.

Local hero

But perhaps the loudest cheer of the two days was reserved to local javelin thrower Jean Paul Callus.  His best throw of 59.93 metres pales when compared to the distances achieved by the others in the same competition but it was still good enough to better the existing Maltese national record by over 6 metres.



Shot 14 March

1 Rutger Smith NED 20.23,
2 Miran Vodovnik SLO 19.65
3 Grigori Panfilov RUS 19.43
4 Anton Ljuboslavski RUS 19.09
5 Peter Sack GER 18.96
6 Yves Niaré FRA 18.65
7 Marco Dodoni ITA 18.58
8 Detlef Bock GER 18.54

Discus 13 March
1 Gerd Kanter EST 63.21 
2 Mario Pestano ESP 62.00
3 Rutger Smith NED 59.84
4 Mikko Kyyrö FIN 59.48
5 Jo Van Daele BEL 58.96
6 Cristiano Andrei ITA 57.98
7 Stefano Lomater ITA 57.88
8 Timo Tompuri FIN 57.85

Hammer 14 March

1 Krisztián Pars HUN 79.69
2 Esref Apak TUR 77.76
3 Aléksandros Papadimitríou GRE 77.13
4 Ilja Konovalov RUS 75.94
5 Nicola Vizzoni ITA 75.13
6 Primoz Kosmus SLO 75.11
7 Patric Suter SWI 74.39
8 Markus Esser GER 74.01
Javelin 13 March
1 Vadims Vasilevskis LAT 82.44
2 Ainars Kovals LAT 82.13
3 Teemu Wirkkala FIN 80.87
4 Stefan Wenk GER 80.67
5 Vladimir Chizhov RUS 77.84
6 Francesco Pignata ITA 76.74
7 David Brisseault FRA 76.73
8 Dariusz Trafas POL 76.60

Shot 13 March
1 Vita Pavlysh UKR 19.39
2 Nadine Kleinert GER 18.17
3 Assunta Legnante ITA 17.96
4 Irina Khudoroshkina RUS 17.70
5 Laurence Manfredi FRA 17.40
6 Jessica Cerival FRA  17.11
7 Oksana Chibisova RUS 16.95
8 Cristiana Checchi ITA 16.72
Discus 13 March 
1 Franka Dietzsch GER 60.32
2 Natalya Sadova RUS 60.28
3 Mélina Robert-Michon FRA  58.69
4 Olga Chernyavskaya RUS 58.34
5 Yelena Antonova UKR 58.12
6 Teresa Machado POR 57.35
7 Agnese Maffeis ITA 55.97
8 Vladimíra Racková CZE 55.72
Hammer 14 March

1 Andrea Bunjes GER 67.99
2 Shirley Webb GBR 67.52
3 Sini Pöyry FIN 67.49
4 Ivana Brkljacic CRO 67.26
5 Svetlana Sudak BLR 67.20
6 Betty Heidler GER 67.16
7 Lorraine Shaw GBR 66.97
8 Cecilia Nilsson SWE 66.35

Javelin 14 March

1 Valerija Zabruskova RUS 63.84
2 Steffi Nerius GER 62.80
3 Jekaterina Ivakina RUS 61.34
4 Elisabetta Marin ITA 59.27
5 Natalija Shimtshuk BLR 58.80
6 Claudia Coslovich ITA 58.79
7 Kirsi Ahonen FIN 58.59
8 Taina Kolkkala FIN 58.51