Krisztian Pars spinning his way to victory in Ostrava (© Ostrava organisers)
Olympic champion Krisztian Pars and World record-holder Betty Heidler produced inspired last-round throws in Ostrava on Wednesday (26) to win the Hammer finals at the Golden Spike, part of the IAAF Hammer Throw Challenge.
Held on the eve of the main competition of the IAAF World Challenge meeting, the Hammer throwers competed in heavy rain on the newly-laid surface at the Mestsky Stadion.
Pars took an early lead with his first-round 78.31m, but Olympic finalist Lukas Melich responded with 80.16m in round two. The Czech athlete held on to the lead until the penultimate throw of the competition when Pars sent the Hammer flying out to 80.75m.
Melich registered a foul with the final attempt of the contest, leaving Pars to claim his fourth victory at the Golden Spike meeting. The Hungarian has now been undefeated for more than a year and his triumph in Ostrava was his 20th successive win.
It was the third time this year that Melich had finished second to Pars, having also finished behind him at last weekend’s European Team Championships and at the Kusocinski Memorial in Szczecin, where Melich set a lifetime best of 80.28m.
“My first coach, Pal Nemeth, taught me an important lesson – the champion isn’t decided until the final attempt in the competition,” said Pars, who set the meeting record of 82.28m here last year. “Right up until the end today, I believed I could win.”
Ukraine’s Oleksiy Sokyrskyy, the Olympic fourth-place finisher, was third with 76.97m, finishing ahead of Marcel Lomnikcy of the Slovak Republic and Szymon Ziolkowski of Poland.
There was an almost identical story in the women’s competition. Former World record-holder Anita Wlodarczyk opened with 72.91m, but Heidler rounded out the first round with 73.32m to take the lead.
Wlodarczyk then produced a 74.25m throw in round two to overtake her rival, and then extended her lead with 74.98m in round four.
That remained the lead until Heidler’s final throw when she produced a 75.24m effort to snatch the lead. And, as was the case in the men’s competition, Wlodarczyk ended her series with a foul.
It was the third successive win in Ostrava for Heidler, who now has a 17-14 lead in her head-to-head record against Wlodarczyk, herself a two-time winner in Ostrava.
The German now leads the overall standings in the IAAF Hammer Throw Challenge and her final-round throw in Ostrava made all the difference – had it not been for that mark, Heidler would be second in the standings, just 0.06 behind Wlodarczyk.
“I felt excellent in warm-up and had two good throws,” said Heidler. “I then struggled a bit in the competition, but I gave it everything on my last throw and it worked. To throw over 75 metres in these conditions is really good.”
Heidler’s compatriot Kathrin Klaas was third with 71.48m, marginally ahead of Cuba’s Yipsi Moreno (71.27m) and Hungary’s Eva Orban (71.25m).
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF