Andrei Mikhnevich of Belarus produced the shock result of the men’s Shot Put in what was described by the 27 year-old as a show down of putting styles.
Mikhnevich who is a University student in Minsk saw off the American spinners tonight, who were led by the World champion John Godina and Adam ‘silver’ Nelson. Significantly, Nelson's second place finish today means he has had a frustrating run of three global silver medals, the others having come at the 2000 Olympics and 2001 Worlds.
Asked whether he believed today’s competition had been from the outset a straight 'East versus West' battle, Mikhnevich whose previous best major championships performance had been ninth at the Olympics in Sydney, and an eighth place at the 1999 World Indoors, denied any suggestion that he considered the Americans a threat.
“I never saw this final as about an East and West fight, not even for a moment. For me (he turned and looked at bronze medallist Yuriy Belonog of Ukraine who is also uses the gliding technique) and the others who practice this technique this was a confrontation between throwing styles.”
“This was about those who turn in the circle against those who glide from back to front of the ring.”
Mikhnevich's 21.69m winning throw was a new personal best by 3 centimetres bettering his recent PB set on 8 August in Minsk, and he considers 22 metres is within the range of his technique.
The Belarussian though was fortunate to be competing at all in Paris, having failed a Doping Control test at the last World Championships in Edmonton 2001, when finishing 10th. In fact he has only been eligible for competition again since 4 August.
Commenting on questions about his suspension he said it had been the fault of his doctor, who had given him medicine without his knowledge. To a further question he also confirmed he had been tested regularly during his suspension.
Silver medallist Adam Nelson was very gracious in defeat.
“You know what, this kid has got a lot of talent, clearly, but his future in the sport will be made by the choices he makes in the next couple of years. He has clearly made some bad choices in the past, and I can speak proudly that neither either myself, John (Godina) or Kevin (Toth) have gone down that path. That said he had five puts over 21 metres tonight, and you cannot argue with that consistency.”
Mikhnevich who ‘shot’ to the World title from a family background bereft of any association with athletics, heads straight from Paris to Korea to take part in the World University Games (23-29 August), for which he is obviously now the outstanding title favourite.
However, first of all, the Belarussian will have to get over his own astonishment at winning the World title.
“In am absolutely stunned that I am the World champion, and it’s going to take me sometime to understand fully what I have done today.”