Yaime Perez in the discus at the IAAF World Championships London 2017 (© Getty Images)
It would seem that Sandra Perkovic still has the Midas touch that took her to Olympic gold in the London Stadium in 2012.
Returning to the scene of the first of her two Olympic triumphs, the Croatian member of parliament fouled her opening effort in qualifying, hurling her discus into the cage, but flung her second effort out beyond the 62.50m automatic standard to 69.67m.
That represented the 27-year-old’s best ever championship throw, having won in London in 2012 with a 69.11m national record in Rio last year with 69.21m and taken the 2013 world title in Moscow in 2013 with 67.99m
It was also the third longest throw of 2017 – behind the 71.41m Croatian record that Perkovic set in Belinzona on 18 July and the 70.23m she threw in Split in February.
"I do not like it when I start with a no throw,” Perkovis reflected. “It makes me feel very nervous as it happened to me in Rio. So I was very focused in the second round and made it safe to the final.
"It is a good start for the final on Sunday. I was looking forward to the competition at this stadium so I hope I will just be myself on Sunday and throw maybe even better than this one. I am ready."
Only two other women managed the automatic mark in Group A. South American record holder Andressa De Morais of Brazil was the first to do so, with 62.80m in round two.
Going into the final round, 2015 champion Denia Caballero was lying sixth in the group with 58.87 but the 27-year-old Cuban steadied her nerves, unleashing a 63.79m throw to book her place in the final.
"I feel relieved,” Caballero confessed. “I was very tense because of a poor throw and a no-throw. It is good to be in the final. I feel good about that. You can expect a surprise from me.”
We have been warned. Caballero, the bronze medallist in Rio, is the only thrower other than Perkovic to have ventured beyond the 70m mark this century, with 70.65m in Bilbao in 2015.
In Group B, Caballero’s Cuban team-mate Yaimi Perez sailed into the final with the opening throw, a confident 65.58m. The 2010 IAAF World Junior champion has beaten Perkoic twice this year – in Stockholm and Sotteville – and looks the most likely threat to the Croatian.
Still, 2009 champion Dani Stevens of Australia was only marginally less impressive with her opening round effort, 65.56m.
The remarkable Melina Robert-Michon, the 38-year-old French thrower who took Oympic silver behind Perkovic in Rio last year, also made it through with a first round effort, 63.97m.
China’s Asian champion Yang Chen made it in round two with 62.71m – followed in round three by team-mate Xinyue Su (63.06m) and Germany’s 2011 silver medallist and 2015 bronze medallist Nadine Muller (63.35m).
That left three non-automatic qualifying places, which were filled by China’s 2015 World Military Games champion Bin Feng (61.70m), 2016 European silver medallist Julia Harting of Germany (61.70m) and Lithuania’s Zinaida Sendriute (61.48m).
Simon Turnbull for the IAAF