For some years, the former Soviet nations of Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus have regularly had the podium to themselves in the Olympic, world and European women’s shot put. At Saint-Denis we may well need to look no further for the medallists, because of the five representatives from these countries who will be stepping into the circle, four have thrown the world’s best performances so far this year.
The leader, Svetlana KRIVELYOVA, 34, has thrown 20.77m. Though the world’s best performance this year, this is still well short of the world record – 22.63m – held (you guessed it) by the Russian (though now French) Natalia LISOVSKAYA.
KRIVELYOVA was Olympic champion in 1992, silver medallist at the World Championships in Stuttgart in 1993, and bronze medallist in Tokyo in 1991 and Seville 1999, and seems to lead most of her rivals by a clear margin.
Chief among these is the young and promising Belarusian Nadezhda OSTAPCHUK (7th in the World Championships in Edmonton, but more recently silver medallist at the World Indoor Championships in Birmingham), and the Ukrainian Vita PAVLYSH, 2nd at the 1997 World Championships in 1997, European champion in Budapest in 1998 and 3rd in Edmonton.
The German Astrid KUMBERNUSS, three times world champion (1995, 1997, 1999) will be lying in wait and hoping for a place on the podium, as will the Russian Irina KORZHANENKO (reigning European champion) and the Cuban Yumileidi CUMBA, consistently well placed in major championships.