New Zealand’s Valerie Adams has dominated the shot put for the best part of a decade, but the IAAF World Indoor Championships Portland 2016 could be her toughest championships to date.
The double Olympic gold medallist and three-time world champion had surgery at the end of 2014, which delayed her start to 2015. Knowing she wasn’t at her best, her five-year winning streak came to an end in her first competition of last year. She ended the season with a season’s best of 18.79m, having been beaten in three of her four competitions.
But already this year, with just two competitions under her belt, Adams is in much better form. She recently won at the New Zealand Championships with 19.43m and she will take great confidence from the fact that she improved with almost every round in that competition.
Until recently, that was the best throw in the world this year. But last weekend world bronze medallist Michelle Carter booked her spot on the host nation’s team by winning the US indoor title with 19.49m.
In a quest to become the USA’s first senior global champion in the women’s shot put, Carter will get a boost from the memories of beating Adams three times last year.
Behind this year’s two 19-metre throwers, the field is closely matched. European indoor silver medallist Yuliya Leantsiuk of Belarus has a best this year of 18.68m, while USA’s 2011 world bronze medallist Jillian Camarena-Williams finished second to Carter at the US Indoor Championships with a season’s best of 18.64m.
Anita Marton produced indoor and outdoor Hungarian records at last year’s major championships, winning the European indoor title with 19.23m and throwing 19.48m to finish fourth at the World Championships. Her best this year is 18.43m, but given her ability to peak when it matters most, she may well improve on that in Portland.
Trinidad and Tobago’s Cleopatra Borel is the oldest in the field and is yet to compete in 2016, but cannot be discounted. An Olympic finalist back in 2004, the 36-year-old could take her first global medal if she is able to reproduce her 19-metre form.
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF