Ryan Whiting winning the shot at the Pedro's Cup (© Adam Nurkiewicz)
American shot putter Ryan Whiting continued to dominate his event this winter when provided the best performance of the evening at the ninth edition of the Pedro’s Cup indoor meeting in Bydgoszcz, Poland, on Tuesday (12).
In absence of local favourite and two-time Olympic champion Tomasz Majewski, the reigning World indoor champion Ryan Whiting was always the clear favourite in the men’s Shot Put competition but had to show his competitive mettle before emerging as the winner with an effort of 21.38m.
His compatriot Cory Martin took the lead with an indoor lifetime best of 20.84m in the second round. Whiting immediately overtook him later in the second round with 20.88m, but that only motivated Martin further.
On his next attempt, Martin set yet another personal best, this time reaching 20.98m.
It was only in the fifth round that Whiting finally managed to prove his superiority. His effort was measured at 21.38m, a new meeting record and the second longest mark in the world this year, a distance only beaten by himself.
In fact, Whiting is the only man over 21 metres so far this year, a barrier he has broken in each of his three meetings and his penultimate effort effectively sealed the win in Bydgoszcz.
The two Americans were followed by Germany's former European champion Ralf Bartels who reached 19.63m. Seven centimetres further back was the best Polish thrower Rafal Kownatke.
There were only three events in the Pedro's Cup but all featured top international fields.
The men’s Pole Vault competition featured Germany's two Olympic medallists from the London 2012 Olympic Games, Bjorn Otto and Raphael Holzdeppe.
However, Holzdeppe, vaulting off a shortened run-up, failed three times at his opening height of 5.50m and departed ignominiously. Another top German, Malte Mohr, met with the same fate after successive failures at 5.60m, 5.70m and 5.75m.
Otto on top of his game
By contrast, while his compatriots struggled, Otto showed impressive form. After an easy opening clearance at 5.50m, he went straight up to 5.70m and cleared the bar yet again by a big margin on his first attempt.
As it turned out, the two vaults were enough to give the Olympic silver medallist the win but Otto continued with three attempts at 5.85m. All three vaults at the meeting record height were unsuccessful, although he came close on both the second and the third attempts.
“I am happy with today’s competition,” said Otto. “I had hoped to vault higher, but I was using new poles tonight, and the experiment was successful.”
Sweden’s Alhaji Jeng proved to be the best of the rest. A third-time clearance at 5.60m was enough to clinch the second place. British record holder Steven Lewis finished third at 5.50m.
The women’s field included the 2012 Olympic Games silver medallist Yarisley Silva, as well as Great Britain's 2013 world leader Holly Bleasdale and Poland's 2009 World champion Anna Rogowska.
This trio, along with US vaulter Mary Saxer, were the only competitors left by the time the bar reached 4.50m. Both Silva and Bleasdale cleared this height on their first attempts; Saxer did so with her second attempt while Rogowska, who had earlier cleared 4.40m, passed straight to 4.60m.
The next height proved decisive. Silva had a very impressive first-time clearance at 4.60m and none of the other three managed to go clear.
Rogowska could not even reach the bar on either of her first two attempts, and her third, while better, was not quite good enough to get over so the Polish star thus finished down in fourth place, as Bleasdale took second and Saxer third.
With victory assured, Silva asked for the bar to go up to 4.70m. Both of her first two attempts were extremely close, the third a bit less so.
“I did not vault the way I expected tonight,” commented the disappointed Rogowska. “But there is enough time before the European Indoor Championships to settle the technical issues. I am healthy and I hope this year will be a much happier one than the last.”
Bydgoszcz will stage more top class athletics action next month when the city is the host for the 2013 IAAF World Cross Country Championships on 24 March.
Pawel Jackowski for the IAAF