It seemed like the passing of an era as both Mihaela Melinte (ROM) and defending champion Olga Kuzenkova (RUS) failed to progress.
Former world and European champion Melinte set six world records in the 1990s, but was unable to get beyond 62.40m in a third round effort after two fouls.
Reigning Olympic champion Kuzenkova was making a comeback after maternity leave, but despite finishing second in the Russian championships, looked distinctly ring rusty as she could manage no better than 22nd overall with a best of 66.56.
There was better luck for her compatriot, Gulfiya Khanafeyeva. Despite looking unhappy for most of the morning, the European silver and former world record holder qualified with her third throw of 68.65, almost 10m down on her best set this summer.
Three athletes managed to qualify with the minimum of fuss. Cuba’s Yipsi Moreno, Eileen O’Keefe (IRE) and Croatia’s Ivana Brkljacic all went over the 71m qualifying tape at the first time of asking.
Medal hopefuls Betty Heidler (GER), Russian champion, Yelena Konevtseva, China’s Wenxiu Zhang and former Olympic champion, Kamila Skolimowska (POL) all qualified.
There were other last-gasp escapes, though. Clarissa Claretti (ITA) required the full complement of throws to get into the top 12, while Cuba’s Yunaika Crawford squeezed into the final pool with her third effort of 68.55, shouldering aside Slovakia’s Martina Danisova.
Osaka 2007 News Team/mb