Welcome to part 4 of my Olympic preview! Today will focus on the throwing events, an area which admittedly I am less knowledgeable about so this has acted as a good preview for myself! Below are the links for the first 3 parts if you haven’t had a chance to read those yet.
On to today’s preview!
MEN’S SHOT PUT
Two American’s have thrown over 22 metres this year with Jo Kovacs edging Ryan Crouser on the global lists although Crouser did get the better of Kovacs at the US trials in a contest that was separated by 16 centimetres. Those two dominate the top of the lists this year with Kovacs possessing 4 of the top 5 throws in the world this year. Even the 3rd American Darren Hill lies 4th in the world this year with a 21.63 at the US trials. An American sweep is not out of the question although I don’t think it will happen.
The Nigerian Stephen Mozia is 3rd this year with 21.76 but his next best throw is only 20.82 so I feel that the 21 metre throw can’t be taken too seriously as an indicator of his chances and indeed most of his throws have been in the mid 20 metres area so I won’t read too much into the 21.76 throw.
New Zealand have a good recent tradition in this event and World Indoor Champion Tomas Walsh showed his credentials in London recently when he was 2nd behind Kovacs with 21.54 which added 34 centimetres to his season’s best.
European Champion David Storl (21.39) had a very close contest with Poland’s Michal Haratyk (21.19) and they are Europe’s best chances of getting a medal but Storl can throw much further as he showed last year with a 22.20 throw in Lausanne.
Jamaica aren’t known for their throwers but O’Dayne Richards has shown his prowess in this event when he threw 21.69 in Toronto last year but this year only has a best of 20.82. Also look out for Poland’s World Junior Champion Konrad Bukowiecki who may not quite be ready for an Olympic podium place just yet but in Tokyo could be one of the favourites for gold.
PREDICTIONS: GOLD: Jo Kovacs (USA); SILVER: Ryan Crouser (USA); BRONZE: Tomas Walsh (Nwz)
WOMEN’S SHOT PUT
The question for many is can Valerie Adams come back to her very best form and win a 3rd consecutive Olympic title? She has slowly been coming back over the last couple of years after surgery and is edging closer to the top of the world’s rankings.
Lijiao Gong of China has that lead with 20.43 back in May although she hasn’t thrown over 20 metres since with her next best throws in the 19.7 region.
Reigning World and European Champion Christina Schwanitz of Germany is certainly one of the main favourites and has thrown over 20 metres twice this year including at the European Championships. She has been the most consistent thrower in the world this year with 4 of the top 7 throws this year and looks in pretty good shape.
Valerie Adams meanwhile has finally got back to throwing over 20 metres and in fact did so twice in a week, the first being in Monaco. It would be a fantastic story if she came back to win again and if her immediate preparations have gone well then there is every chance she can.
The only other main threat come from the USA with World Indoor Champion Michelle Carter who has a best this year of 19.59 when winning the US trials this year. America has decent strength in depth with Raven Saunders (19.33) and Felisha Johnson (19.26) although both will have to throw big PB’s to get amongst the medals.
The other possible threat is Hungary’s Anita Márton (19.49) who was a distant second behind Schwanitz in Amsterdam so will need to dramatically improve on that to contend in Rio.
PREDICTIONS: Valerie Adams (Nwz); SILVER: Christina Schwanitz (Ger); BRONZE: Lijiao Gong (Chn)
On paper this appears to be a Poland vs Germany battle with Piotr Malachowski starting as the favourite having thrown the longest two throws in the world this year. Last year’s World Champion won a silver back in the 2008 games but was only 5th in London and so will be looking to win his 1st Olympic gold medal.
Germany are well represented by the two Hartings (Christoph and Robert) who have both thrown in excess of 68 metres this year. Robert of course is the Olympic Champion from London and is in a good position to defend that title while Christoph is competing at his first Olympics and could challenge for a medal although he may have been a bit disappointed when he finished 4th at the European Championships.
Unfortunately South Africa’s Victor Hogan won’t be in Rio and he would have been ranked 5th going into Rio. Jamaica’s Fedrick Dacres is the 4th and final person to have thrown beyond 68 metres this year back in April although his next best throw is 65.94 which was also back in April so difficult to judge his current form.
European Silver medallist Philip Milanov of Belgium (67.26) goes to Rio 8th in the world this year but has been a bit more consistent than some ranked around his level and his performance in Amsterdam should give him confidence he can challenge in Rio. Europe as usual is very strong in this event with bronze medallist Gerd Kanter only 34th in the world this year with many Europeans throwing further including Hungary’s Zoltán Kövágó (67.13), Sweden’s Daniel Ståhl (66.92) and Spain’s Lois Maikel Martínez (66.96).
PREDICTIONS: GOLD: Piotr Malachowski (Pol); SILVER: Robert Harting (Ger); BRONZE: Philip Milanov (Bel)
Sandra Perkovic (70.88) has the 4 longest throws in the world this year and is the defending Olympic Champion so looks like another big favourite in these throwing events but she was beaten at the World Championships last year by the Cuban Denia Caballero. This year Caballero is not even the number 1 ranked Cuban as Yaime Pérez (68.86) has on three occasions thrown further than Caballero (67.62).
Australia’s 2009 World Champion Dani Samuels is back to throwing the distances that could make her a contender in Rio having struggled in recent major championships. She has thrown twice over 67 metres this year and anything around that range in Rio will almost certainly medal you would have to think.
Again Germany are strong with three throwers who could all contend. European silver medallist Julia Fischer (68.49) is ranked 3rd this year and she is joined by 6th ranked Nadine Müller (66.84) and European bronze medallist Shanice Craft (66.42).
China have 2 top 10 throwers with Xinyue Su (65.59) and Bin Feng (65.14) and how nice is it to see a Brit ranked in the top 10 this year with Jade Lally whose early season form saw her go over 63 metres several times with a best of 65.10. Lally’s form has dipped a little bit since then but if she can get close to her early season form then she can at least make the final.
Ashely Whitney (64.62) represents America’s best chance and France’s Mélina Robert-Michon (64.96) is another one to look out for. To be honest though I see this as a battle between Perkovic, the Cubans and the Germans for the medals which could be quite fiercely contested although I expect Perkovic to come out on top.
PREDICTIONS: GOLD: Sandra Perkovic (Cro); SILVER: Yaime Perez (Cub); BRONZE: Julia Fischer (Ger)
The last few years have seen the return of 90 metre throwing in the men’s Javelin with Kenya’s Julius Yego (who apparently learnt the event through YouTube) leading the way when he won the World Championships in an African record of 92.72 however he hasn’t been as impressive this year. His best of 84.68 is only good enough for 18th in the rankings this year but like most of the field events it only takes one good effort to win but he will need to get close to his 2015 form if he is going to add the Olympic title to his World title from last year.
Germany’s Thomas Rohler leads the way this year with the only 90m+ throw this year when he threw 91.72 at the end of June. He had a disappointing European Championships not even winning a medal with Latvia’s Zigismunds Sirmais winning the gold with 86.66. He is joined by Johannes Vetter who has thrown 88.23 this year and they have a 3rd 88 metre thrower in Julian Weber. Any one of those three can medal and the chances are quite high that at least one of them will.
Kershawn Walcott was one of the more surprising Olympic Champions from London and his form has been up and down since. He has gone over 90 metres when he threw 90.16 in Lausanne last year and still has a decent best this year of 86.35, good enough for 9th in the world this year.
Antti Ruuskanen of Finland ended up with a bronze medal at the Europeans but his qualifying performance of 88.23 (ranks him joint 2rd this year) suggested much more and his joined by former World Champion and Olympic medallist Tero Pitkämäki whose 85.35 suggests he could still be a threat. Also look out for the Czech’s as Vítězslav Veselý and Jakub Vadlejch in particular could find themselves contending.
Egypt’s Ihab Abdelrahman failed a drugs test recently which rules him out and cast a small shadow over the event as he was last year’s World silver medallist. Otherwise this is a competitive event with numerous potential medal winners, although I think Germany will strongly feature.
PREDICTIONS: GOLD: Thomas Rohler (Ger); SILVER: Antti Ruuskanen (Fin); BRONZE: Johannes Vetter (Ger)
Olympic Champion Barbora Spotakova finds herself at the top of the World rankings with a 66.87 throw yet she only finished 5th at the European Championships so the question may be whether her confidence has been affected by that. Her next best throw this year is 63.79 and has a couple of 63m+ throw behind that.
Once again Germany’s strength is on show here with last year’s World Champion Kathrina Molitor not even making the German team. Christin Hussong (66.41), Linda Stahl (65.25), Christina Obergföll (64.96) will represent Germany and they make up 3 of the world’s top 7. None of them however were able to beat Tatsiana Khaladovich (66.34) at the European Championships with Stahl getting the silver. Khaladovich has been perhaps the most consistent thrower in 2016 with 4 of the top 11 throws in the world this year and that makes me think she is one of the more likely contenders to medal.
South Africa’s Sunette Viljoen (65.14) won a bronze at the World Championships last year with a similar distance to her best this year and appears to Africa’s best hope on the women’s side in this event. Kathryn Mitchell (64.67) of Australia has been very consistent with her best 6 competitions ranging from 63.80 to 64.67 and that consistency could stand her in good stead.
Europe’s challenge also includes Latvia Madara Palameika (65.68) and Poland’s Maria Andrejczyk (64.08) while China is strong with Huihui Lyu (64.03), Shiying Liu (63.33) and Lingwei Li (62.89) although all 3 had better throws in 2015 (admittedly their best were all in China). I think Europe will end up dominating the medals however.
PREDICTIONS: GOLD: Tatsiana Khaladovich (Blr); SILVER: Linda Stahl (Ger); BRONZE: Barbora Spotakova (Czr)
This is an event where the qualifying standard was probably set too high. There were several open spaces after the qualifying period finished which perhaps made the event look like it didn’t have that much strength in depth. Meanwhile, Pawel Fajdek has 10 of the top 11 throws in the world this year. He’s my pick for my gold. Not much to add to that really! It would be a big surprise if he doesn’t win and I just can’t see him not winning.
The only other thrower to go over 80 metres this year is Ivan Tsikhan of Belarus edging over with 80.04 and was 2nd behind Fajdek at the European Championships in Amsterdam where he threw a credible 78.84 which only two people have thrown beyond this year. Belarus have another contender in Pavel Bareisha (78.60)
While he hasn’t thrown as far as Tsikhan in 2016 Dilshod Nazarov of Tajikistan (78.87) with several throws over 77/78m and is the most consistent thrower in the world this year after Fajdek.
Hungary’s Krisztián Pars last year threw 79.91 and on that form would be a big contender but has relatively struggled and has a best in 2016 of 77.38 which is not that bad but only good enough for 16th in the world this year. The European bronze medallist Wojciech Nowicki (78.36), the home hope of Wagner Domingos (78.63) have thrown that could win a medal and to be honest there are quite a few after them as well.
It’s nice to see 3 Britain’s be selected for Rio with Nick Miller, Mark Dry and Chris Bennett and hopefully one or more of them can make the final but it is very competitive in that 76/77 metre range so will be tough.
PREDICTIONS: GOLD: Pawel Fajdek (Pol); SILVER: Ivan Tsikham (Blr); BRONZE: Dilshod Nazaro (Taj)
Anita Wlodarczyk has similar dominance to her Polish teammate Fajdek and has the 10 longest throws this year and like Fajdek is an overwhelming favourite for gold and it will be no surprise that she is my pick and I expect a Polish double in the hammer.
Germany’s Betty Heidler has thrown over 75 metres 3 times which only Wlodarczyk has bettered (which includes the 3rd longest throw of all time) although America’s Gwen Berry has thrown further this year (76.31) although her best form was in the early part of the year. Amber Campbell (74.03) could be a bit of an outside bet to sneak in the medals as well.
China has two big threats with 2015 World silver medallist Wenxiu Zhang (75.58) as well as Zheng Wang (74.50) and Moldova has a rare threat at a medal with Zalina Marghieva (74.21).
Last year’s World Bronze medallist Alexandra Tavernier had a very disappointing Europeans where she didn’t qualify for the final so there are some doubts about her form while Britain’s Sophie Hitchon seems to now be a consistent contender coming of two 4th places at last year’s Worlds and this year’s Europeans. She may well need to throw beyond her British record of 73.86 to get on the podium though.
PREDICTIONS: GOLD: Anita Wlodarczyk (Pol); SILVER: Betty Heidler (Ger); BRONZE: Wenxiu Zhang (Chn)
That’s it for today! 4 parts down with 2 to go and tomorrow I will look at the hurdle races as well as the multi-events which has a lot of interesting stories so join me tomorrow for that. Thanks for reading!