China’s Gong Lijiao, Germany’s Christina Schwanitz and USA’s Michelle Carter confirmed their status of IAAF World Championships, Beijing 2015 medal contenders as the only athletes who achieved the qualifying standard with the first effort.
The standard was set at 18.30m and, at least for this trio, the distance didn’t seem to present any difficulty, given that all three have already surpassed 20 metres this season.
The German, who has made the final of every major competition in her career, except for the 2012 world indoor championships, recorded 19.39m in the opening round.
Gong, one of the biggest medal hopefuls of the home crowd and getting a rousing cheer, sent her implement to 19.11m, comfortably achieving the standard with her first attempt as well.
The USA leader and team captain Michelle Carter had a confident start to her championship campaign as well. She posted a 19.22m toss in the first round and quickly left the sunlit arena to rest before this evening’s final.
Hungary’s 2015 European indoor champion, Anita Marton joined the top three in the final after reaching 18.85m in the second round.
Pan American Games champion Cleopatra Borel from Trinidad and Tobago opened up with a sloppy 17.01m toss, but was able to improve to 18.55m in the next round.
Another automatic qualifier in second round was Belarus’ Aliona Dubitskaya, who recorded her fifth furthest outdoor throw ever, 18.51m. Her experienced compatriot Natalia Mikhnevich was last athlete to surpass the 18.30m mark. She reached 18.57m with her third attempt.
Among those joining the automatic qualifiers in the final later tonight will be the Chile’s Pan American Games bronze medallist Natalia Duco, who set a season’s best of 18.21m in the preliminary round,
China’s Yang Gao had an effort of 18.21m and will accompany Gong in adding local flavor to the final.
The only notable absentee in the final will be USA’s Tia Brooks. The 2013 world championships finalist was a runner-up at the US championships with 18.93m, but only managed 17.71m in the morning qualification rounds and missed out on the final by two centimetres.
Elena Dyachkova for the IAAF