Olympic bronze medallist Tomas Walsh made it clear that he means business in the IAAF World Championships London 2017 shot put, with an opening throw of 22.14m in qualification, far surpassing the automatic qualifying distance 20.65m. It is the best throw in qualification in any major championships and the second best throw in IAAF world championships history, behind only Werner Gunthor's championship record of 22.23m from 1987.
“There are two thoughts on qualifying: some guys think 'I want to throw 1cm over it'. And others, like me, want to see how far they can throw. That's because if I try and throw 20.75m, I'd end up throwing 20.74m,” explained Walsh. “To get the qualifier on your first throw is exactly what you want, but to throw 22 metres is another thing all together. It's amazing what you can do when you just get out there and throw for throwing's sake.”
However, the New Zealander will have his work cut out to beat the USA's Olympic champion Ryan Crouser, who has dominated the men's shot put this year, topping the world list with a 22.65m throw from the US Championships. The seventh furthest thrower of all-time ensured he will join Walsh in the final on Sunday evening with an opening throw of 20.90m.
World champion Joe Kovacs appeared to have more of a problem with the early morning start. The Olympic silver medallist could muster up only 20.67m, which did ultimately prove good enough to make the final in a non-automatic qualifying spot. However, at almost two metres shy of his 22.57m personal best from Tucson, Arizona earlier this season, the 28-year-old will need to find his form for Sunday if he is to be in with a chance of defending his title.
Germany's two-time world champion, David Storl, made light work of qualification, throwing 21.41m in round one, a distance bettered only by Walsh. Poland's Michal Haratyk, also made it a short morning's work, sending his implement out to 21.27m in the opening round. After two fouls, the USA's Darrell Hill made sure of his place in the final with 21.11m, the only other athlete over 21 metres. His team-mate Ryan Whiting --twice the IAAF world indoor champion and the IAAF world silver medallist from Moscow in 2013-- made it four US putters in the final after his 20.84m in round one.
Walsh's New Zealand team-mate Jacko Gill, the twice world junior champion, had been the first to qualify with his opening throw of 20.96m, whilst Croatia's Stipe Žunic and the Czech Republic's Tomáš Stanek --the fourth athlete over 22 metres in 2017-- also surpassed the automatic qualifying mark with 20.86m and 20.76m respectively in the first round.
Further down the list of qualifiers, world indoor silver medallist Andrei Gag threw 20.61m for a non-automatic qualifying spot, whilst Poland's European indoor champion Konrad Bukowiecki found his third throw of 20.55m was enough to see him through to the final as the 12th qualifier.
Jamaica's O'Dayne Richards, the IAAF world bronze medallist from 2015, who improved his national record this season to 21.96m at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Rabat and Olympic fifth placer Darlan Romani of Brazil, were notable names to miss out on qualification.
Emily Moss for the IAAF