Andreas Thorkildsen in the javelin at the IAAF World Championships Moscow 2013 (© Getty images)
The best throw of the men’s Javelin qualification in Moscow was seen early, in the first round of group A, by one of the gold medal favourites here, Tero Pitkamaki.
The Finn, who won his last medal at the Beijing Olympics back in 2008 and won the World title in Osaka 2007, enjoyed an upbeat early season throwing a world-leading 87.60m in May. He then had injury problems, but returned fresh in late July first to win the Finnish Championships with 85.70m before another win in Kuortane at 86.13m just prior to Moscow.
With his first throw here in the qualification, visibly using a cautious slower run-up speed, he hit an easy 84.39m automatic qualifier to top the qualification summary and is still a firm medal favourite here.
The second place in the qualification was a surprising one. 2010 African champion Ihab Abdelrahman El Sayed only had one 80-metre throw prior to Moscow, an 82.45m Egyptian record for second place at the Mediterranean Games in June, so his 83.62m opener – an auto qualifier and a national record – was a big upset for most. It was also was his fourth career 80-metre competition since he first broke that mark in September 2010.
Some of the other favourites were in trouble early in the qualification while many did not make the final at all. Andreas Thorkildsen, the Norwegian with four successive medals at World Championships between 2005 and 2011, has not been at his best this season and this was shown in the first two rounds of the qualification.
The 31-year-old didn’t seem to find the correct route in the air for his Javelin in the first two rounds, but his third throw landed at 83.05m, an automatic qualifier and third place overall in the qualification. It was also his fourth longest throw of the whole season. Saturday will be the double Olympic champion’s sixth successive World Championships final.
Asian champion Ivan Zaytsev of Uzbekistan was fourth in the qualification with 81.53m, advancing to the final for the first time in global championships with his second try, having failed to do so at the London Olympics.
It didn’t go as smoothly for the 2012 European champion Vitezslav Vesely. His first throw got a big cheer from the crowd as it landed around 88 metres, but the red flag was shown as he stepped well over the line. In the end had no big problems after his second throw of 81.51m was well enough for the final.
Although 99cm from the automatic qualifying mark and throwing in group A, he decided to pass his final attempt in the qualification and quite rightly so as he was fifth overall. The 30-year-old faces a big challenge in the final as he has finished in fourth place at both the 2011 World Championships in Daegu and 2012 Olympics in London. Following his disappointment in London 2012, the Czech has done well this season and is second on the 2013 world list with 87.68m.
In sixth place, Olympic bronze medallist Antti Ruuskanen of Finland qualified rather easily with a second-round throw of 81.36m, closely followed by Russian Dmitri Tarabin, who was seventh with 81.32m, also from round two.
Both of these athletes are looking for a medal here with Ruuskanen in good form lately throwing a 85.70m season’s best in August in his last meet before Moscow. 21-year-old Tarabin is the world-leading athlete with his 88.84m, the winning mark at the Russian Championships at this very stadium in July.
Others going through were the Kenyan record-holder Julius Yego, who was also in the final in London last summer, but has now also made the World Championships final with his first try of 80.88m. Kim Amb of Sweden won one of the Diamond League meetings and made his first global final with a 80.84m throw while New Zealand’s Stuart Farquhar also made the final in Daegu 2011 and now is there for the second straight time with 80.73m.
The last qualifiers were Ukraine’s Roman Avramenko (80.37m) and Estonian Risto Matas (80.18m) with two 80-metre throws just outside: Turkey’s Fatih Avan in 13th with 80.09m and German Bernhard Seifert in 14th at 80.02m.
Quite a few big names were left out of the final including Latvian Vadims Vasilevskis (79.68m), while Cuban Guillermo Martinez, who had won a medal in two successive World Championships with a silver in Berlin 2009 and a bronze in Daegu 2011, went out throwing 79.67m.
The third member of the Finnish team, Teemu Wirkkala, threw 79.50m and the 2012 Olympic champion Keshorn Walcott finished in 19th place with 78.78m after a difficult season for the youngster, who upset everyone in London.
Japan’s Yukifumi Murakami, the 2009 Berlin bronze medallist who had thrown a 85.96m personal best this season, did not qualify with 77.75m and Russia’s 2012 European silver medallist Valeriy Iordan also went out with 76.92m.
Mirko Jalava for the IAAF