Robert Harting in the discus at the IAAF World Championships London 2017 (© Getty Images)
There was little drama in the qualifying round of the men's discus throw, with all but one of the expected medal contenders moving on to tomorrow evening's final.
Defending champion Piotr Malachowski of Poland and Germany's Robert Harting, who's gunning for a fourth title, wasted little time, reaching 65.13m and 65.32m in the first round respectively, to pack up their gear early on.
"It is always the plan to qualify with the first throw so I am glad I managed it well and I wasn't even nervous before the competition," said Malachowski, also a two-time Olympic silver medallist who arrived in the British capital with a 67.68m season's best.
"When I think of Beijing 2015, the qualification was a tragedy. It was so emotional, I could not sleep before the competition and I was under pressure. Here I feel confident and it would be great to fight for a medal again."
Harting echoed some of those sentiments.
"Qualifying on the first attempt, that was the plan," said Harting, who also took Olympic gold in The London Stadium in 2012. "I already know that tomorrow I will feel at home in this stadium, with this crowd."
Swede Daniel Stahl, who emerged this year as the most likely to disrupt Harting and Malachowski's eight year stranglehold on the world title, led all qualifiers with a 67.64m toss in the second round.
“I felt confident coming to this competition and I consider myself a favourite tomorrow,” said the towering Swede, whose massive 71.29m effort in Sollentuna on 29 June landed him into the No. 9 position all time. Looking ahead, he added, “I think 69 metres will be enough for gold.”
Andrius Gudzuis of Lithuania was the next best on the night, spinning to a 67.01m performance with his first throw, by far the best of the second qualifying group. Behind him, Fedrick Dacres of Jamaica, this year's early season world leader, moved on with a 64.82m throw, also past the 64.50m automatic qualifier.
Estonian Gerd Kanter, the 2008 Olympic champion and the man who Harting succeeded as world champion in 2009, also advanced to continue his quest for a sixth medal at a world championship. The 38-year-old, who's thrown 65.87m this season, reached 63.61m, the ninth best of the evening.
Two-time US champion Mason Finley reached 64.76, also an automatic qualifier, to advance. Another Swede, Simon Pettersson (63.69m), Robert Urbanek (63.67m) another Pole, and Traves Smikle (63.23m), a second Jamaican, also moved on.
It was not a good night for Belgian Philip Milanov and Iran's Ehsan Hadadi. Milanov, the silver medallist two years ago, managed just 63.16m to finish eighth in his group and eight centimetres short of moving on. Hadadi, who took Olympic silver on this infield five years ago, reached 63.03m to finish behind Milanov.
Bob Ramsak for the IAAF