Krisztian Pars of Hungary reacts in the Men's Hammer Final (© Getty Images)
In 1980, the Soviet Union's Sergey Litvinov took the silver medal in the Hammer Throw at the Olympic Games in Moscow behind the great Yuriy Sedykh.
Now, 33 years later, can his son and namesake, also called Sergey Litivinov, succeed where the father failed?
Figures and form suggest he has a good chance, but, like his father, he faces a mighty battle.
Fortunately, Litvinov snr ultimately did not need the 1980 Olympic gold medal to establish his place in the throwers’ pantheon.
He went on to win at the first two World Championships, at Helsinki 1983 and then in Rome four years later, and, after the Soviet bloc boycott of the 1984 Los Angeles Games, he won the 1988 Olympic crown in Seoul.
His great teammate and rival, Sedykh, still holds the World record with the mighty 86.34m heave he produced at the 1986 European Championships and it is reasonably safe to say the World record will survive beyond Moscow 2013.
However, Litvinov is a credible contender to do what his father could not – win a gold medal in a global championship title in the Russian capital’s historic Luzhniki Stadium.
He has a personal best of 80.98m and threw 80.89m at the Kuts Memorial meeting in Moscow on 15 July to lie second in the world on the 2013 list.
The biggest obstacle in Litvinov’s path is, obviously, Hungary’s London 2012 Olympic Games champion Krisztian Pars, who is undefeated in 12 competitions this year.
The 31-year-old, a World youth champion way back in 1999, made a steady transition to senior ranks before really coming into his own in the last few years.
Fifth on his Olympic debut in Athens 2004, Pars has successively finished seventh in Helsinki 2005, fifth in Osaka 2007, fourth at the Olympic Games in Beijing and then Berlin 2009; and then third at the 2010 European Athletics Championships and second in Daegu two years ago, before crowning his rise with the gold medal in London last year ahead of Slovenia’s defending champion Primoz Kozmus and Japan’s 2004 Olympic Games winner and 2011 World champion Koji Murofushi.
Kozmus and Murofushi remain somewhat sparing in their number of competitions this summer, but still lurk around the sharp end of the world lists with 78.83m and 76.42m, respectively.
Sydney 2000 Olympic champion Szymon Ziolkowski has been more active in competition, though his best this year is 78.79m but on their records, all three must be respected.
Tajikistan’s Dilshod Nazarov and Czech Republic’s Lukas Melich are the only other two men to have breached the 80m mark this year.
Nazarov briefly held the world lead with his 80.71m in Germany back in May, but the 31-year-old’s record in major championships – 11th in Beijing and Berlin, 10th in Daegu and London – suggests he is more likely to be a finalist again than a medallist.
Melich threw a personal best of 80.28m in Poland in June. The 32-year-old has been up around the 80 metres mark for the past two years and finished sixth in London, so he must be rated as a medal chance in Moscow.
Of the younger throwers, Poland’s Pawel Fajdek has twice thrown 79.99m this year, including when winning at the Universiade in Kazan last month ahead of Slovakia’s Marcel Lomnicky, who reached 78.73m for the silver medal.
Fajdek was also the only man to beat Pars last year although he had a disaster at the Olympics with three no-throws in qualifying.
Russia’s other two representatives, Aleksey Zagorniy and Aleksey Korolyev, have solid if not spectacular credentials.
The event has a very even field this year, apart from the super-consistant Pars.
Less than two metres covers the world top 10. As ever, it will not be what men throw at their best which decides the outcome, but what they can produce under the highest competition pressure, as Pars showed when he won his Olympic gold last summer.
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Len Johnson for the IAAF