Kelsey-Lee Barber in the javelin at the World Athletics Championships Oregon22 (© Getty Images)
All it takes is one big throw.
That’s precisely what Kelsey-Lee Barber produced at the World Athletics Championships Oregon22, becoming the first woman to win back-to-back world javelin titles.
Since winning the world title in 2019, Barber struggled with back and neck issues but peaked well at the Tokyo Olympics to claim bronze.
The Australian once again produced her best throw of the year – and, in fact, the second-best mark of her career – to claim gold here in Oregon, winning with a world-leading 66.91m which came in the third round.
For all the other medal contenders, however, most of the excitement came in the final two rounds.
When Kara Winger started down the runway, the Hayward Field crowd was cheering for the US thrower, who by that point had settled into fifth place. The 36-year-old, who has represented the US at four Olympic Games and six World Championships, was looking for a happy ending to her international career.
She sent her javelin out to 64.05m, her best throw of the competition by nearly two meters and enough to move into the silver medal position, where she stayed until the end of the contest.
Not only was it the first global medal of her career, it was also USA’s first women’s javelin medal at the World Championships.
Then, like Winger, Japan’s Haruka Kitaguchi surged at the end of the competition when she threw 63.27m on her final attempt.
Up until the last-effort strength of Winger and Kitaguchi, it appeared as though Australia would claim two medals. Barber’s compatriot Mackenzie Little had opened with a PB of 63.22m, which put her in first place for the first two rounds, and second place until China’s Olympic champion Liu Shiying threw 63.25m in round four.
Ultimately, though, Liu and Little finished shy of the podium after Winger and Kitaguchi’s inspired sixth-round efforts.
Barber said she was reminded of her experience winning at the 2019 World Championships in Doha, when she became the first woman from the southern hemisphere to become a javelin world champion.
“I am just really soaking up the moment. I got to experience it for the first time in Doha. It was a world of emotions,” said Barber. “I am cementing my place as one of the world's best javelin throwers and I want to keep building on that.”
Winger, meanwhile, was delighted to finally earn a medal on home turf.
“I just had so many opportunities and so much support from the local crowd,” said Winger, who grew up two hours away in Vancouver, Washington. “To grab a medal here almost at home, at Hayward Field – it is what I dreamed about. But I am still in disbelief that it actually happened.”
Kitaguchi’s last throw was an emotional moment for the athlete who missed the 2019 World Championships team by just six centimetres. After her distance illuminated the board, she dropped to her knees in joy. Then Kitaguchi pulled herself up, ran over to the stands where her mom was watching her, and then sank once more to the ground, overcome.
“I made history,” said Kitaguchi, who won Japan’s first ever World Championships medal in the women’s javelin. “My goal was to get to the top eight in the final. I did not think about the medal before.”
Madeline Ryan for World Athletics
|WOMEN'S JAVELIN MEDALLISTS|
|🥇||Kelsey-Lee Barber 🇦🇺 AUS||66.91m WL|
|🥈||Kara Winger 🇺🇸 USA||64.05m|
|🥉||Haruka Kitaguchi 🇯🇵 JPN||63.27m|