The 2013-2016 IAAF Strategic Plan has six Core Values: universality, leadership, unity, excellence, integrity and solidarity, and a Vision Statement: “To lead, govern and develop the sport of athletics in all its forms worldwide, uniting the Athletics Family in a spirit of excellence, integrity and solidarity.”
There were six automatic qualifiers65.00 or more - for Tuesday night’s final from the 41-athlete line-up, and they were led by Gerd Kanter, the defending Olympic champion from Estonia, who throwing in the second of the two groups blasted out 66.39 in the third round after struggling with his opening efforts. With a similar qualification performance Britain’s Lawrence Okoye didn’t guarantee his place in the final until his third attempt of 65.28.
Sandwiched between these two performances in Group A were Germany’s double World champion Robert Harting, the odds on favourite for gold, who launched 66.22, and Jorge Fernandez of Cuba whose 65.34 on his first attempt might be the latest signal that this athlete is about to enter the elite of the sport.
Harting, 27, has one of the longest current win streaks in the sport of 28 competitions (finals only) which now dates back to 19 August 2010 but the Cuban who is 3 years his junior has steadily emerged winning the Pan Am Games last season and finishing 8th at the World Championships in Daegu. This season Fernandez has improved his PB to 66.05, just 5 centimetres more than his old mark (2010) but from this morning’s performance, it looks as if there is more to come.
There were only two automatic qualifiers from the first group, India’s Vikas Gowda (65.20), who was seventh in the Daegu World Championships, and Ehsan Hadadi of Iran (65.19), the bronze medallist in Korea, with their bests coming respectively with their second and first efforts.
Below par today but still making it into the final were two of the major medal contenders, Pole Piotr Malachowski (64.65), the Olympic silver medallist in 2008, and Virgilijus Alekna (63.88), the two-time Olympic and World champion from Lithuania.
The Pole has a season’s best of 68.94 which makes him the third best of the year so far, while Alekna, who is now 40, holds second place on the world season’s list with 70.28m behind Harting (70.66).
It’s helpful to note that aside the Cuban, the top of this event has remained pretty constant in the last four years, the Beijing final seeing Kanter, Malachowski, Alekna and Harting take the top four places, and that could again be the scenario in tomorrow’s final, though Harting should be at the front of that line this time. If he is it will be Germany’s 4th Olympic gold medal in this event’s history.
The once all powerful USA, who have provided 14 Olympic champions, will not be represented in the final, their entire trio failing to make the grade.
Not managing to join Kanter in the final are his compatriots, 39-year-old Aleksander Tammert (60.20), the bronze medallist from 2004, and Mart Israel (60.34) who was fourth in the Daegu Worlds.
Making up the final of 12, are Martin Wierig (64.13) of Germany, World Championships fifth placer Australia’s Benn Harradine (64.00), Spain’s Frank Casanas (63.76) who was fifth in Beijing, and Erik Cadee of The Netherlands (63.55).