On the evidence of what we have seen throughout this campaign, Sandra Perkovic will face a stiff challenge to claim a record-equalling third world discus title at the IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019.
The Croatian discus great has claimed a brace of world and Olympic titles plus five European gold medals during a stellar career, but a lengthy injury lay-off has left her some way short of her brilliant best in 2019.
Unusually for the dominant Perkovic, she failed to win any of her five IAAF Diamond League meetings but a confidence-boosting victory with a best of 67.65m at The Match in her final pre-World Championships outing offers hope she can match Franka Dietzsch as a three-time world champion.
The tentative favourite in Doha is Cuban Yaime Perez, who has enjoyed the best season of her career so far. Posting a world-leading PB of 69.35m in Sotteville-les-Rouen, she also secured three IAAF Diamond League victories out of five including top spot at the final in Brussels.
To add further gloss to her outstanding year, the 28-year-old also landed the Pan American title in Lima, suggesting that Perez can improve upon her fourth-place finishes at each of the past two World Championships.
On paper the other main challenger for gold in Doha will be Perez’s Cuban team-mate Denia Caballero. The 2015 world champion secured 2019 Diamond League victories in Paris and Stockholm, and boasting a season’s best of 69.20m she is likely to once again pose a podium threat.
Feng Bin leads a powerful trio of Chinese throwers. The eighth-place finisher at the 2016 Olympics and 2017 World Championships has enjoyed a solid season, posting a season’s best of 65.45m and snaring the Asian title in Doha.
Her compatriot Chen Yang (64.55m), the 2018 Asian Games champion and seventh-place finisher at the 2016 Olympics, is also entered. Olympic fifth-place finisher Su Xinyue completes the Chinese assault.
Germany has a rich tradition in the women’s discus and national champion Kristin Pudenz is a possible contender, as demonstrated by placing third at the IAAF Diamond League final in Brussels.
Compatriot Nadine Muller, 33, is a two-time world medallist (silver in 2011 and bronze in 2015) and the long-limbed thrower with a season’s best of 64.52m could also be a factor.
European Team Championships winner and World University Games silver medallist Claudine Vita (66.64m) has also enjoyed a successful year and will be confident of a good performance in Qatar.
The leading US thrower is Valarie Allman, who hurled her discus out to a PB of 67.15m at Chula Vista in April. The 2014 world U20 silver medallist also claimed five top-six Diamond League placings to further illustrate her international standing.
Shadae Lawrence set two Jamaican records in 2019, highlighted by a 65.05m effort in May, although the 23-year-old has struggled to replicate that form in recent months.
Also entered is the 40-year-old French veteran and two-time world medallist (silver in 2013 and bronze in 2017) Melina Robert-Michon (62.62m).
Steve Landells for the IAAF