Marhartya Dorozhon in action in the javelin (Getty Images) © Copyright
Feature Oslo, Norway

Dorozhon cautiously optimistic of her medal chances in Beijing

The theme of the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Oslo was scheduled to be one of world record-breaking, but the fitful winds that took over as the evening progressed blew that particular ambition away as far as the 50th anniversary running of the Bislett Games was concerned.

However, it was an ill wind which blew no harm to three unexpected winners in front of a capacity crowd of 15,000 in the atmospheric, revamped Bislett Stadium – China’s Guowei Zhang in the much-feted men’s high jump, Britain’s Laura Muir, whose front-running effort in the women’s 1500m confounded a field including Sweden’s world indoor and outdoor champion Abeba Aregawi, and, in a women’s javelin competition containing all the big names of the event, Marharyta Dorozhon.

Her winning effort of 64.56m was a personal best and an Israeli record, raising her to eighth on this year’s world list, which is currently headed by South Africa’s Sunette Viljoen with the 66.62m she threw in Melbourne back in March.

Viljoen was the only thrower to come close to Dorozhon on the night, finishing just 20 centimetres behind, with the Czech Republic’s European and double Olympic champion Barbora Spotakova taking third place with a season’s best of 64.10m.

Dorozhon also beat the current and 2011 world champions, respectively Christina Obergfoll and Mariya Abakumova, who finished seventh and last.

It was a topsy-turvy night for Israel’s top thrower, who switched nationality earlier this year from Ukraine and is now clearly finding training and life in general more settling at her training base near Tel Aviv.

Since making that switch, Dorozhon, 27, has found her performances improving steadily. She set her first Israeli record of 63.34m in Neurim on April 27, and followed up on May 26 with 63.85m to win the IAAF World Challenge meeting in Ostrava.

After a third consecutive improvement, she is now focusing on what will be her first competitive outing for her newly adopted country at the Baku 2015 European Games, which had its opening ceremony on Friday night.

The athletics programme in Baku will consist of the European Team Championships Third League, and while Dorozhon’s opponents from Azerbaijan, Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Austria, Bosnia & Herzegovina, FYR Macedonia, Georgia, Luxembourg, Malta, Moldova, Montenegro and the Slovak Republic will be striving to do their best at the inaugural European Games, she is looking like one of the athletes most likely to be contributing top points to their country.

None of Dorozhon’s likely opponents figure in the top 100 in this year’s world listings, but she will doubtless be seeking a fourth consecutive national record as she looks ahead to a summer which offers her the opportunity to make another competitive flourish – the IAAF World Championships in Beijing.

No Israeli athlete has ever won gold at the IAAF World Championships, while no Israeli woman has ever won a medal at the event.

But Dorozhon stressed in the aftermath of her Oslo win that she still didn’t consider herself as a favourite for a World Championships medal. “I must confirm it more times,” she said.

Baku offers her the opportunity to start that process of confirmation.

For all that she is a fast-rising contender in the javelin, Dorozhon’s career for Ukraine has already provided her with solid experience of championship competition.

She took part in the 2013 IAAF World Championships in Moscow, and at the London 2012 Olympics, without progressing from the qualifying stages.

After a first international outing at the 2003 IAAF World Youth Championships in Sherbourne, where she was 17th, she made the most of her years of eligibility for the IAAF World Junior Championships, qualifying for the 2004 running in Grossetto, and then, two years later, taking a bronze medal at the World Juniors – in Beijing. Could that be a lucky omen?

The likes of Spotakova, who returned to the sport last year after giving birth, and Obergfoll and Abakumova, who are doing the same this year, will doubtless be working their way up the listings in the next month. But they will be casting an interested eye on the Baku 2015 results on 21 June.

Mike Rowbottom for the IAAF