A world-leading effort in the javelin by Thomas Rohler and another dominant victory by Joe Kovacs in the shot put were the key infield highlights at the ExxonMobil Bislett Games in Oslo on Thursday (9), the seventh stop of the 2016 IAAF Diamond League series.
Warming up with an 84.71m throw in the opening round, Rohler unleashed an 89.30m bomb in the second, a world lead which ostensibly sealed the victory for the 24-year-old German, his second in IAAF Diamond League action this season.
It also added three centimetres to the career best he set last season, putting him firmly in the medal mix as the Olympic Games approach.
“There’s really not too much more I could have asked for,” said Rohler, who was fourth at the IAAF World Championships Beijing 2015.
“Maybe 90 metres. But we are on the right path to Rio.”
His compatriot Johannes Vetter also had a memorable night. The 23-year-old set the evening’s tone with an 87.11m throw in round one, shattering his 85.40m career best also set last year.
Olympic champion Keshorn Walcott was third with 86.35m, a season's best. Julius Yego, the world champion, was never a factor and finished seventh with 80.90m.
Underscoring his position as the world’s best thrower at the moment, Joe Kovacs took an expected victory in the shot put, breaching the 22-metre mark for the second time this season.
But he was unexpectedly pushed by Poland’s 19-year-old Konrad Bukowiecki who used his IAAF Diamond League series debut to underline his rising star status.
Using the opening three rounds to find his rhythm, Kovacs, the world champion, found himself trailing the tenacious teenager who threw 21.14m in the fourth round, the farthest toss ever by a junior athlete with the senior (7.26kg) implement.
Kovacs responded with a 21.51m toss in the fifth round to take control of the competition before bowing out with a 22.01m throw in the sixth.
“I didn’t want to lose to a young guy,” said Kovacs, who leads the world with 22.13m.
The competition was briefly halted when Norway’s two-time Olympic javelin champion Andreas Thorkildsen, who announced his retirement last month, was honoured with an official farewell. That ceremony, and subsequent standing ovation, inspired the 26-year-old Kovacs.
“Andreas is a good friend and when they stopped us because of the farewell I said to myself that I must do something special for him.”
Sandra Perkovic was the first winner of the evening, dominating the field in the discus to maintain her unbeaten streak in the 2016 IAAF Diamond League. The Olympic champion’s best on the day was 67.10m, but each of her four measured efforts were better than runner-up Nadine Muller’s 63.09m.
Bob Ramsak for the IAAF