World hammer champion Anita Wlodarczyk notched her first victory of the season at the IAAF Hammer Throw Challenge meeting in Ostrava on Tuesday (12) while Andrius Gudzius prevailed against a strong field in the men’s discus.
Wlodarczyk broke an uncharacteristic two-meeting losing streak with a 76.43m season’s best to take the win while Gudzius, another world champion, reached 66.30m to win his event.
World leader Gwen Berry of the US set the early tone, taking the lead with a 72.45m effort in the first round. She extended it to 73.62m in the second, but then Wlodarczyk took over.
After a pair of sub-par efforts in rounds one and two, the Pole woke up the competition with a 74.55m in the third round, a lead she'd never relinquish. She improved to 76.38m in the fourth round, her first throw beyond 76 metres this season, and improved marginally in the fifth, hitting 76.43m.
“I'm still tuning up for the season. It's a season's best and the result is okay,” said Wlodarczyk, whose 42-meeting win streak came to an end in Halle on 26 May where she finished a distant ninth. She was beaten again four days ago in Chorzow, throwing 75.52m behind Berry's 77.78m North American record.
“Despite the fact that 80 metres is still far away, I'm hopeful that I can still do it this season.”
Berry bounced back from back-to-back fouls in rounds four and five with a 74.21m throw in the final round, moving her from fourth to second to salvage the competition.
“I definitely wanted more,” said Berry, whose lifetime best entering the 2018 season was 76.77m. “But I’m happy with the result. I tried to fight until the end and am happy with that, too.”
Alexandra Tavernier of France was third at 73.97m, also from the final round, a mark just 12 centimetres shy of her season’s best.
“Today was okay but I want to look forward to my next competition,” said Tavernier, the 2015 world bronze medallist.
Wang Zheng of China was fourth with 73.73m, with Poland’s Malwina Kopron fifth at 72.88m, season’s bests for both.
Gudzius takes discus showdown
The men’s discus, which this year replaced the men’s hammer on the meeting’s traditional first-day throws-only programme, featured a showdown between the season’s top four throwers, but none were close to their best on the facility’s new circle.
Gudzius fared best, controlling the competition from his first-round 63.10m. Robert Harting wrested it away briefly with a 64.79m in the second round, but Gudzius responded immediately with his 66.30m winner in the third.
Only world leader Fedrick Dacres came close, salvaging an otherwise sub-par showing a 65.36m effort in round six to move from seventh to second.
“It was hard today, but I’m happy,” said Gudzius, who had thrown farther in each of his nine competitions prior to Ostrava. “But victory is victory.”
Harting, a three-time world champion and Olympic champion in 2012, held on for third in what will be his final appearance in the Czech Republic. The 33-year-old has announced that this will be his final season.
Austrian Lukas Weisshaidinger finished fourth with 64.55m, 10 centimetres better than Iran’s Ehsan Hadadi.
Bob Ramsak for the IAAF