Perhaps the event with the best chance of setting a world record at this year’s world championship is the women’s hammer throw. Betty Heidler nearly became the first woman in history to break 80 meters earlier this season with her impressive throw of 79.42 meters in Halle. With that throw, she broke the second of Anita Wlordaczyk’s world records. Before Wlordaczyk was Tatyana Lysenko, who held the mark from 2006 to 2009. While Heidler and Lysenko have already met this year, Daegu is the first time this year that all three will face each other. It is rare for three world record holders to be in the same competition, but it is rarer still that they are all in the prime of their careers. At age 27, Lysenko is the oldest of the trio. The exciting men’s final produced season’s bests by all of the medalists. A similar result will create some some early fireworks as the women’s hammer takes place on Sunday, the final day of the meet. Below you will find a preview of these three women and the other contenders for medals.
Betty Heidler (GER)
Season Best: 79.42m (1st), Personal Best: 79.42m (2011), Last WC: 2nd, Best Finish: 1st (2007)
Many people say that Usain Bolt or David Rudisha are the biggest guarantees in Osaka. I would put Betty Heidler right up there with them. Heidler has been incredible this summer. She has been untouchable this summer after she had two close pre-season losses. This stretch has included wins at eight straight finals, six meets over 75 meters, and a world record. She is almost four meters ahead of second place on the yearly lists. Other than the 2008 Olympics, Heidler has also proven to be a great big meet performer. She won the world championship in 2007, european championship in 2010, and threw a national record at the 2009 world championships. The only thing that was good enough to beat her at the 2009 world championships was a world record, and none of her competitors are in that type of shape right now. The big question is whether Heidler might be in shape to better her own record.
The Former World Record Holders
Anita Wlodarczyk (POL)
Season Best: 73.05m (6th), Personal Best: 78.30m (2010), Last WC/Best Finish: 1st (2009)
It is hard to gauge Wlodarczyk’s fitness level. She injured herself during during the 2009 World Championship, but not before she set a world record and secured gold. She return in 2010 with another world record, and then promptly got injured again. This season she has competed just twice: a mediocre throw of 69 meters and a more impressive season’s best of 73.05 meters at her national championships two weeks ago. I does not look like she is fit enough to challenge Heidler, but with another few meters she can claim silver.
Tatyana Lysenko (RUS)
Season Best: 75.70 (2nd), Personal Best: 77.80m (2006), Last WC: 6th, Best Finish: 3rd (2005)
After setting her record in 2006, Lysenko sat out the 2007 meet with a doping ban. Since returning she has at times been near the same level, but consistency has been a problem. For instance this year she started the year with a win over Heidler at the European Winter Throwing Cup in March. That made her one of just two people to beat Heidler this season. But since then has been a series of ups and downs. Her throw in March (73.70 meters) has been her best result outside of Russia all season. It was also her only win outside of Russia, although she placed second at the European Team Championships and several third place finishes on IAAF Hammer Challenge circuit.
Also Fighting for Some Hardware
Zhang Wenxiu (CHN)
Season Best: 75.65 (3rd), Personal Best: 75.65m (2011), Last WC: 5th, Best Finish: 3rd (2007)
Wenxiu has competed less than anyone but Wlodarczyk. One June 12th, she threw a personal best to place second behind Heidler at the Fränkisch-Crumbach hammer meet. In the twelve weeks since she has competed in just one meet. The decision seems to be by choice too, since she easily won the World Military Games in late July with a throw of 74.29 meters. As with Kathrin Klaas, she has placed no lower than third this year and had a win at the Daegu IAAF Hammer Challenge. She is the only competitor from Asia and in my view is the likely favorite for silver.
Kathrin Klaas (GER)
Season Best: 75.48m (4th), Personal Best: 75.48m (2011), Last WC/Best Finish: 4th (2009)
Started season with a impressive win over Betty at their training camp in South Africa, but more inconsistent since. Throughout the season she has been a consistent competitor (she has placed no lower than third and has strong runner-up finishes in Halle and at the Ostrava World Challenge), but her distances have been hovering around just 71-72 meters over the past month. She placed 4th at the last world championships and should be just as well prepared as Heidler considering they share the same coach.
Yipsi Moreno (CUB)
Season Best: 74.26m (5th), Personal Best: 76.62m (2008), Last WC/Best Finish: 1st (2001, 2003)
Even though she is just 31, Moreno is the elder statesman of the field. Moreno won her first world title a decade ago. Since then she has won another world title, finished second twice, and picked up two Olympic silver medals. After Beijing she took time off to have a child before returning to the sport last season. Compared to Lysenko and Klaas, Moreno has been very consistent this year and it is rare to see her throw under 73 meters.
Zalina Margieva (MDA) just won the World University Games with a national record of 72.93m. She and her sister Marina Margieva (MDA) are the best siblings in history. Martina Hrašnová (SVK) has a personal best of 76.90 meters and took bronze in Berlin, but after returning from childbirth this season, she has had just one meet over 70 meters. The 20-year old Bianca Perie (ROU) is a big hope for the future and enters the competition with gold from the European Under-23 Championships in July and bronze at the World University Games.
The American Contenders
Jessica Cosby (USA)
Season Best: 72.65m (10th), Personal Best: 72.65m (2011), Last WC/Best Finish: 7th (2009)
In Berlin, two Americans made the finals and both of them are back and have set personal bests this year. Cosby placed seventh in 2007 and is a proven big meet competitor. Her personal best might is a few meters short of her competitors, but she consistently raises her game at the US Championships and also did so in Berlin. She has not competed internationally much this year, meaning she has done just three meets in the last three months. But her last international start landed her second place between Heidler and Lysenko. A medal might be out of reach, but the US record of 73.87 meters could be in play.
Amber Campbell (USA)
Season Best: 72.59m (11th), Personal Best: 72.59m (2010), Last WC/Best Finish: 11th (2009)
Campbell has also improved her personal best this year, but after a amazing start to the season, she has been more average lately. Compared to Cosby she has much more international experience, but she placed no higher than 5th in the Hammer Challenge meets this year and has typically had results between 67 and 70 meters. A good throw from her could also chase the US record, but another 70 meter throw likely won’t make the finals.
Click here to view the start lists for Friday’s qualifying round. The top twelve throwers will qualify Sunday’s final.
2011 Performance List
Gold: Heidler, Silver: Wenxiu, Bronze: Moreno