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Event report: Men’s Javelin Final

Tero Pitkamaki had gone unbeaten all season apart from the freak accident in Rome, when an errant spear hit French long jumper, Salim Sdiri, putting the Finn off the competition.

On that single occasion he was beaten by the man who has finished in front of him in both the Athens Olympics and the Helsinki World championships, Andreas Thorkildsen, of Norway.

This time, though, it was the Norwegian who was to leave with the sound of second best ringing in his ears.

In the lead from round two when he went out to what was to prove an unassailable 89.16, the man from Ilmajoki capped a wonderful night for Finnish athletics in the sixth round with a resounding 90.33.

Try as he might, Thorkildsen never managed to reach the same lengths. Maybe all the rumours of a back problem and intensive treatment that had surfaced during the week in Osaka had some substance.

For the second time in a row, Norway had to be content with silver at the World championships.

Even quieter than Thorkildsen was world leader Breaux Greer. There had been a deal of friendly banter between the Norwegian and the American prior to the final. But qualifying for the final throw-off in sixth, Greer's grim mood did not improve until his fifth round 86.21 to claim bronze.

Nonetheless, it was a fine achievement for a man who has emerged from three years of surgery with a reconstructed shoulder.  

In sixth and seventh, there was an illustration of how important championships are, even in the lower placings. Both Robert Osthuizen of South Africa and Poland’s Igor Janik will go home with personal bests of 84.52 and 83.38 respectively.

Round one and for Pitkamaki’s opener the angle was wrong and the spear inscribed a high arc, coming down early at 81.62. He had struggled to get through the qualifiers. Was this to be another struggle?

Thorkildsen fared no better and was unhappy as soon as the javelin left his hand – 82.78 for second was small beer. For a man who had threatened to kill the competition off at the first, this was not impressive.

World leader Greer fouled deliberately after his spear fell well short of the 80m line. This was not a night for accepting half measures when you had thrown over 90m earlier in the summer. 

After round one Russian Aleksandr Ivanov led with 85.18 from Oosterhuizen and Thorkildsen.

Pitkamaki brought out the heavy artillery for his second effort. A soon as the spear left his hand he raised his arms high, knowing he had hit it right. The scoreboard flashed up 89.16 and he was in the lead.

Thorkildsen’s reply was not long in coming - 88.61 and it was game on. Or so it seemed, but that was where the situation was to remain for the top two.

By the end of the second round Vadims Vasilevskis of Latvia had moved into bronze with Greer languishing in eighth. Now it seemed to be no longer a question of whether he would win, but would he survive the cut?

Meanwhile, up front Pitkamaki put down another long marker of 87.72 in the fourth. The confidence was beginning to show.

It was in the fifth that Greer finally got one right and moved into bronze.

Thorkildsen looked uncharacteristically out of sorts and stepped over the mark for another sub-par effort. One to go. Was he once more to finish second in a world championship?

After his final effort had no effect on the standings, Breer led the rhythmic clapping for Thorkildsen. The Norwegian put all he could into his throw, but from the moment it left his hand he knew he was beaten.

It was left to Pitkamaki to collect himself for a final effort to seal the title. Finland would once again celebrate in style.

Osaka 2007 News Team/mb