Joe Kovacs in the shot put in Brussels (© AFP / Getty Images)
Two-time world champion Joe Kovacs smashed the Allianz Memorial Van Damme meeting record on Thursday (1), winning the shot put by more than a metre with 22.61m at the Wanda Diamond League meeting in Brussels.
Held in the city centre on the eve of the main competition, the contest was a crucial points-scoring opportunity for the world’s best shot putters ahead of the Wanda Diamond League Final. Kovacs had already done enough to secure his place in Zurich, but several other athletes needed a good result in the Belgian capital to qualify for next week’s series finale.
Tom Walsh, the 2017 world champion, took an early lead with 21.60m, but Kovacs responded in the next round with 22.61m, adding 17 centimetres to the meeting record that had been set by US compatriot Darrell Hill in 2017.
European champion Filip Mihaljevic, who had opened with 21.13m, was bumped down into fourth place when Jacko Gill threw 21.22m in round four. The New Zealander then improved to 21.32m in round five.
Kovacs sent his shot out way beyond the 22-metre line in the final round and it was measured at 22.48m, no improvement on his round-two throw, but farther than the previous meeting record. Walsh or Gill didn’t improve on their earlier marks, so the top three positions remained the same.
Although delighted to break the meeting record, Kovacs was a little frustrated not to throw farther.
"I think there’s more in the tank, but hopefully in Zurich or Zagreb I can get out a few big throws and get towards the 23-metre line," said the Olympic silver medallist. "I need to relax but not relax too much.
"It’s fun for us," he added of the city centre competition format. "We love being in a stadium for a championship, but this is an exhibition, it’s fun, and makes it enjoyable for everybody."
Jon Mulkeen for World Athletics