Kenya's Julius Yego in action in the Javelin at the 2013 IAAF World Championships in Moscow (© Getty Images)
The standard in the men’s javelin is the highest it has been for almost a decade.
It was a close competition two years ago with just 84 centimetres separating the three medallists, but the way things have progressed in 2015, to simply win a medal this time, athletes may need to throw farther than the 87.17m that brought Vitezslav Vesely the gold medal in Moscow.
The 32-year-old defending champion from the Czech Republic is in good form, having thrown an 88.18m season’s best in June. But in a high-quality year for the event, that mark is enough for just sixth place on the 2015 world list.
Unlike many events, the top of the javelin world is wide open; Vesely and any of the five throwers above him have an equal shot at the gold medal.
Two athletes, both for the first time, have surpassed the 90-metre line this season. Kenya’s Julius Yego produced a world-leading African record of 91.39m in Birmingham in June. Injuries have since hampered the 26-year-old, but he often produces his best marks at major championships and will be keen to atone for being pushed out of a medal position in the last round in Moscow two years ago.
Trinidad and Tobago’s Olympic champion Keshorn Walcott is the second athlete to go beyond 90 metres; his 90.16m first-round throw in Lausanne is the second-farthest throw of this season. The 22-year-old has also had an injury problem since his big throw, but was still able to win the Pan American Games title at the end of July with 83.27m.
The latest big throw came in Kuortane in August, where Germany’s Thomas Rohler unleashed an 89.27m PB. His throws at that meeting suggest that he has the ability to throw beyond 90 metres in Beijing. It is also worth noting that the Kuortane meeting was held on a new Mondo surface, just like the competition in Beijing will be.
The in-form Finnish duo of Antti Ruuskanen and Tero Pitkamaki finished not far behind Rohler in Kuortane. Pitkamaki, who in 2013 came within 10 centimetres of regaining his world title from 2007, is by far the most consistent thrower this season, having thrown beyond 87 metres in five competitions with his best, 89.09m, coming in Turku in June.
Olympic bronze medallist Ruuskanen has this year produced his best ever series of pre-championships throws. The European champion recently won the Finnish title with a last-round throw of 88.98m and then similarly saved his best for last in Kuortane, throwing 87.46m to finish second.
Behind the top six, there is at least one man who could have a say about who will get to the podium. Ihab Abdelrahman might have thrown only 85.50m this season, but the Egyptian has the ability to throw much farther and has a personal best of 89.21m from last year.
The third Finn, Ari Mannio, has set a PB of 86.82m this season, while two more Czech throwers, Jakub Vadlejch and Petr Frydrych have also impressed during 2015 with respective season’s bests of 86.21m and 85.52m.
One Chinese athlete has been entered for this event, but his form is difficult to assess. Zhao Qinggang won the 2014 Asian Games with an Asian record of 89.15m, but he has not competed since that competition 10 months ago.
Mirko Jalava for the IAAF