Krisztian Pars at the 2013 IAAF Hammer Throw Challenge meeting in Szczecin (© Marek Biczyk)
Olympic champion Krisztian Pars will be the star attraction at the Istvan Gyulai Memorial meeting in Szekesfehervar, just outside Budapest, for the latest stop of the 2014 IAAF Hammer Throw Challenge on Tuesday (8).
The Hungarian currently leads the men’s standings, with his best three competitions so far this summer totalling 240.75m, an average of more than 80 metres a meeting, and he has a healthy lead of nearly three metres over second-placed Dilshod Nazarov.
Nevertheless, he will want to impress at his country’s premier athletics meeting and hopefully add to his advantage.
Pars won the challenge in 2011 and 2012 but lost out in the race to the US$30,000 first prize last year to 2013 world champion Pawel Fajdek, and he will also be keen to get back to winning ways after also losing to his Polish rival in the Slovenian team of Velenje last Tuesday, bringing to an end a seven-competition winning streak.
Both Nazarov, from Tadjikiistan, and 2014 world leader Fajdek are also in the field on Tuesday, along with Egypt’s African record holder Mostafa Al Gamal.
This quartet, including Pars, are the only men to have thrown farther than 80 metres this year but Russia’s Sergey Litvinov, who recently won the European Team Championships, could also impress.
The women’s hammer in Szekesfehervar sees Germany’s Betty Heidler start as favourite.
The world record holder, who won the challenge for three consecutive years from 2010 to 2012, has only competed in two challenge meetings this year but could very conceivably take over at the top of 2014 standings with a good performance on Tuesday.
Poland’s 2013 challenge winner and former world record holder Anita Wlodarczyk looks to be her main rival.
Heidler threw a world-leading 78.00m in Ostrava three weeks ago when Wlodarczyk finished second with 76.41m, their only encounter this summer.
Apart from the hammer contests, the biggest headlines could be made by the duel in the men’s high Jump between Ukraine’s newly-minted European record holder and 2013 world champion Bohdan Bondarenko and Russia’s Olympic champion Ivan Ukhov.
Multi-talented Ashton Eaton will run in the 110m hurdles against former world champion Jason Richardson, world silver medallist Ryan Wilson and Jamaican champion Andrew Riley.
The 400m hurdles can boast of another world champion, Trinidad and Tobago’s Jehue Gordon, and his immediate predecessor, Great Britain’s Dai Greene, as well as Jamaican champion Roxroy Cato.
A classy 3000m has Edwin Soi on the start line.
Soi comes direct from Paris after winning the 5000m at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in the French capital on Saturday and becoming the first man in 2014 to run faster than 13 minutes for the longer distance. His Kenyan compatriots Thomas Longosiwa and Daniel Kipchirchir Komen will also be in the race, alongside Ethiopia’s Edris Muktar and USA’s Will Leer.
In the women's 400m hurdles, USA’s Georganne Molina will come up against Ukrainian pair Hanna Titimets and Anna Ryzhykova as well Bahrain’s Kemi Adekoya and the talented US hurdler Cassandra Tate.
Phil Minshull for the IAAF