David Storl in the mens Shot Put Final at the IAAF World Athletics Championships Moscow 2013 (Getty Images) © Copyright
Preview Beijing, China

Preview: men’s shot put – IAAF World Championships, Beijing 2015

The form book suggests that the battle for the gold medal should be between Germany’s two-time defending champion David Storl and US champion Joe Kovacs.

The two men are the only ones beyond 22 metres this year and there is a gulf between them and the best of the rest of the world

Notably, both men have won at three IAAF Diamond League meetings apiece and are joint top of the Diamond Race with 14 points each.

However, it’s Kovacs who leads the 2015 world lists with his massive 22.56m in Monaco a month ago, his last meeting before the IAAF World Championships, which elevated him to eighth on the world all-time list, the best distance in the world since 2003.

Storl has also improved his best this summer, to 22.20m when he won in Lausanne, also letting people know that he is in the best form of his life despite his illustrious track record.

But despite the difference in the distance of the pair’s personal bests, Storl has by far the best competitive record.

The German has come out on top in 10 of the past 11 encounters with his US rival, dating back to the middle of last season. His only loss to Kovacs came on home soil for the US thrower at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Eugene 10 weeks ago.

“You have to admire David for his consistency,” said Kovacs recently. “He’s always there when it counts. He’s come back really well from shoulder surgery last fall (autumn).”

In fact, Storl has won 11 of his 12 competitions indoors and out in 2015 while Kovacs has got a record of 10 wins from 14 outings this year.

The most likely candidate to cause an upset if both men are just slightly off their game is 2009 world champion Christian Cantwell, who is still throwing well at the age of 34 and has reached 21.64m this year when he finished second to Kovacs at the US Championships.

Compared to the 25-year-old Storl and 26-year-old Kovacs, Cantwell may represent the voice and arm of experience but he’s a relative novice compared to the 37-year-old 2007 world champion Reese Hoffa, who will be appearing at his fifth successive World Championships and who qualified for Beijing by virtue of him winning the 2014 Diamond Race.

The youngest member of the US quartet is 25-year-old Jordan Clarke, who has improved to 21.49m this year.

“It does appear as though it’s the USA vs David Storl, but it is always a mistake to count others out,” analysed Kovacs.

Among those ‘others’ who could have an impact are Jamaica’s O'Dayne Richards, who improved his national record to 21.69m when winning at the recent Pan American Games.

Richards failed to make the final in Moscow two years ago but since then also won the Commonwealth Games title last year.

Serbia’s Asmir Kolasinac and New Zealand’s Tom Walsh are the two other men who have put 21.50m or better this year, Walsh reaching exactly that distance in Germany for a national record three weeks ago and Kolasinac getting a personal best of 21.58m on home soil in Belgrade back in June.

Phil Minshull for the IAAF