It was a hearty ‘Skol’ to Daniel Stahl as the powerhouse Swede delivered on his season-long vow to be world champion, scrapping his way to the discus title in a tight, tense competition.
The Diamond trophy winner has dominated the 2019 campaign, hurling the 2kg disc 71.86m for joint fourth on the world all-time list, but today was not a day for unleashing monster throws simply to win gold, which he did courtesy of a best of 67.59m.
Behind, in final that largely went to the form book, Fedrick Dacres earned Jamaica’s first medal in this event in World Championships history with a best of 66.94m
Meanwhile, in bronze Lukas Weisshaidinger also made history by becoming Austria’s first male World Championship podium dweller via his 66.82m throw – achieved with his training discus after officials declared with first choice discus damaged.
Stahl opened with a handy 66.59m and gave a fist punch of satisfaction following his rock-solid start. It was Weisshaidinger, however, who nosed ahead of the Swede with a 66.74m in round one.
Australia’s Matt Denny, who is also a 74-metre hammer thrower, made an early impression, stretching his arms skyward after a personal best of 65.43m to sit in provisional bronze after the first stanza.
The second round of the competition – much of it played out to the audio of the passionate Ethiopian fans toasting Mukhtar Edris’ gold medal-winning success in the 5000m – stepped up a notch.
Stahl gained a grip on the competition, hurling his disc out to 67.18m and letting out a grunt of approval. Dacres also found his groove in round two, coming within a school ruler length of the big Swede with a sweet 66.94m. Apostolos Parellis was the other big mover, the Cypriot catapulting up to fourth in the standings with a national record of 66.32m.
Stahl slowly continued to apply the pressure in round three – like a wrestler holding a half nelson – extending his best with a 67.59m which veered to the right and was dangerously close to landing outside of the sector lines. Weisshaidinger improved his distance by eight centimetres, if not his third place position, with a best of 66.82m. Alin Alexandru Firfirca of Romania loomed into contention with a hurl of 66.46m – the second best of his career to dislodge Parellis in fourth.
Defending champion Andrius Gudzius (61.55m) of Lithuania was among the quartet to exit the competition at the halfway cut after a below-par performance.
A scratchy fourth round saw no change to the overall picture and it was the same in the penultimate stanza as the final lost its fizz.
Weisshaidinger perhaps best responded to the challenge in the final round, producing a decent 66.35m, but after Dacres fouled out with his final throw, Stahl was in the luxurious position of knowing he already had gold in his pocket as he entered the circle for his sixth throw.
Unleashing a 67.05m effort – which was launched at a ridiculously high trajectory – the 2017 silver medallist then proceeded to sprint 20 metres or so out of the circle and across the throwing area before slowing to a jog in celebration.
Becoming the first male Swede to be crowned world champion since triple jumper Christian Olsson 16 years ago, he said: “This is historic for Sweden. I am really happy to win the first global gold for my country in the discus. I have been fighting for this for many years. I am speechless now. This year has been about hard work, improving my technique and travelling around the world and winning a lot of meets. I had two goals: to make the final and then win gold.”
Weisshaidinger was ecstatic to create history for his country and added: “The pressure was extremely high in Austria. Everybody kept talking about a medal. Being able to deliver such a competition tonight was electrifying.”
Steve Landells for the IAAF