Poland's Anita Wlodarczyk in action in the hammer (AFP / Getty Images) © Copyright
Preview London, UK

Preview: women's hammer – IAAF World Championships London 2017

Fresh from her world record at the end of last season, Poland's Anita Wlodarczyk starts as the overwhelming favourite.

Six metres clear at the top of the 2017 world list, the twice Olympic, twice world and three-time European champion heads to London hoping to retain her title from Beijing in 2015.

Having become the first woman to throw beyond 80 metres with her 81.08m in 2015, the 31-year-old owns the seven farthest throws in 2017 and looks one of the most likely winners at the championships.

Wlodarczyk further illustrated her dominance in Cetniewo, Poland, on 29 July after throwing 82.87m, the second farthest throw of all time and just 11 centimetres shy of her world record. Each of her five measured throws sailed beyond 80 metres.

Wlodarczyk’s main rivals look likely to come from US champion Gwen Berry and China's Wang Zheng, although both have yet to prove themselves on a major championships stage.

Malwina Kopron, the 2011 world U18 silver medallist, joins Wlodadarczyk on the Polish team and is clearly in the form of her life, having set a personal best of 75.11m for second at the Polish Championships, a throw which moved her to third on the Polish all-time list.

World and Olympic silver medallist Zheng Wenxiu should not be discounted based on her proven championships pedigree, but she has not shown medal-winning form so far in 2017, her season's best being a modest 72.12m, some five metres down on her personal best. However, with further bronze medals from the 2012 Olympics and the 2011 and 2013 World Championships, she could well raise her game and win a medal in London.

The respective bronze medallists from Rio and Beijing – British record-holder Sophie Hitchon and France's 2012 world U20 and 2015 European U23 champion Alexandra Tavernier – have also not yet hit top form in 2017, but with the minor medals appearing relatively open, they could well feature if they can produce anywhere near their best.

European bronze medallist Hanna Skydan of Azerbaijan, Hanna Malyshik of Belarus and US pair Maggie Ewan and Deanna Price are other likely finalists; all have thrown beyond 74 metres in 2017.

Emily Moss for the IAAF