Pawel Fajdek in the hammer at the IAAF Hammer Throw Challenge meeting in Turku (AFP / Getty Images) © Copyright
Preview Turku, Finland

Turku set to host best ever Paavo Nurmi Games

The 56th Paavo Nurmi Games in Turku on 5 June will be the best in the history of this IAAF World Challenge meeting.

As is often the case in Turku, the men’s javelin and hammer competitions will be in the spotlight, but there are also some high-standard events on the track.

In the top event, the men’s javelin, Andreas Hofmann is the hottest thrower at the moment. Of the three Germans who have thrown beyond 90 metres this season, the 26-year-old has surpassed that mark in three of his four competitions.

In his last competition in Offenburg on Saturday he set a PB of 92.06m while his compatriots, Olympic champion Thomas Röhler and world champion Johannes Vetter, have not thrown beyond 90 metres since the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Doha one month ago.

Vetter started his season with three consecutive 90-metre competitions, including a 92.70m world lead in Leiria at the European Cup Winter Throws. Both Röhler (89.88m) and Vetter (89.34m) went close in Eugene, though.

Throwing farther than the Finnish record of 93.09m, set by Aki Parviainen in 1999, will earn the winner an island from the Turku Archipelago. Hofmann’s recent form is not far off that mark.

The men’s hammer, part of the IAAF Hammer Throw Challenge, is naturally a key event here as well. Poland’s Pawel Fajdek, who has won the past three world titles, has won here too three times in a row.

Last year the 28-year-old threw 82.40m to break the stadium record, the eighth best result of his career. He produced his first 80-metre throw of 2018 with a world-leading 80.70m in Halle last week and has won all six of his competitions this season.

Britain’s Nick Miller won the Commonwealth title with the first 80-metre throw of his career, 80.26m, in April. Olympic champion Dilshod Nazarov returns to Turku, as does world and Olympic bronze medallist Wojciech Nowicki, who was second in Turku last year.

Croatia’s Sandra Perkovic is one of the most prolific performers on the international circuit, but the world and Olympic champion will be making her Paavo Nurmi Games debut. The 27-year-old has already thrown a world-leading 71.38m this year, just three centimetres shy of her lifetime best.

Cuba’s Denia Caballero set a stadium record of 65.17m in Turku in 2015, two months before going on to win the world title. She will be in Turku alongside compatriot Yaime Perez and Germany’s Julia Harting.

Men’s 200m highlights track events

In the men’s 200m, world champion Ramil Guliyev takes on 2015 world bronze medallist Anaso Jobodwana and 2014 NCAA champion Dedric Dukes. But the three sub-20-second performers will have to be near their best to beat in-form South African Luxolo Adams, who set a PB of 20.01 on home soil earlier this year and won at the recent IAAF World Challenge meeting in Hengelo.

Sergey Shubenkov, the 2015 world champion, faces fellow sub-13-second performer Pascal Martinot-Lagarde and world bronze medallist Balazs Baji in the 110m hurdles.

Kenya’s 2015 world champion Nicholas Bett will take on 2016 Olympic fourth-place finisher Thomas Barr in the 400m hurdles, while the women’s event features 2016 world indoor 400m champion Kemi Adekoya and two-time African champion Wendal Nel of South Africa.

Ethiopia’s Meskerem Mamo, who recently set an African U20 record of 8:33.63 in Doha, is the top name in the women’s 3000m. She will be joined by compatriot Beyenu Degefu, the world U20 champion, who clocked 8:35.76 in Doha behind Mamo.

Tori Franklin will be making her first appearance since setting a US triple jump record of 14.84m last month, while 2015 world bronze medallist Nikoleta Kiriakopoulou headlines the pole vault.

Mirko Jalava (organisers) for the IAAF