World discus champion Daniel Stahl’s first-round throw of 68.10m at the Folksam Grand Prix withstood a sustained challenge from fellow Swede Simon Pettersson at the World Athletics Continental Tour Bronze meeting in Karlstad on Wednesday (8).
Stahl’s opening effort gave him a huge lead at the end of the first round and he went on to back it up with throws of 63.50m and 65.95m in the second and third rounds. But Pettersson, who was in second place at the half-way point with 63.10m, found his rhythm in the second half of the competition and improved to 64.30m in round four.
Stahl responded with 66.07m, but Pettersson continued to improve, throwing 66.80m. Pettersson saved his best mark for the final round, sending his discus out to 66.90m, just 20 centimetres shy of his lifetime best and little more than a metre short of Stahl’s leading mark.
On a night when wind and rain hampered performances, pole vault world record-holder Mondo Duplantis also managed to salvage a victory.
He needed all three attempts at his opening height of 5.52m, while world bronze medallist Piotr Lisek needed two. Belgium’s Ben Broeders maintained the lead up to and including 5.62m, thanks to a series of first-time clearances, but Lisek needed three tries to get over that height.
Duplantis passed that bar and went straight to 5.72m, but once again brought the bar down on his first two attempts. The 20-year-old Sweden finally got over it on his third try, while Broeders and Lisek were not so fortunate, meaning Duplantis enjoyed a home victory. Heavy rain started to fall soon after, so Duplantis opted against trying to go higher.
“It was a little tough,” said the world silver medallist. “It wasn't ideal weather but it was okay and I'm glad I got to compete and managed to get the winning jump in before the rain started.
“I was on a pretty big pole in the warm-ups and I wanted to start on it in the competition but the wind started to get a little tricky so I had to go down to some smaller poles and play it safe. The warm-up felt good and I had high hopes for today, but nature said otherwise.
“I enjoy these competitions, even though there are no spectators, but I understand the reasons why and it's better than just practising.”
European indoor silver medallist Thobias Montler was a comfortable winner of the men’s long jump, leaping 8.02m (0.9m/s), while Khaddi Sagnia won the women’s event with an even bigger margin of victory, sailing out to 6.76m (-0.3m/s).
Leading Swedish throwers Kim Amb and Fanny Roos maintained their unbeaten streak this year, Amb winning the men’s javelin with 81.48m and Roos throwing 18.41m to win the women’s shot put.
The meeting also incorporated a unique element in which Sweden’s best athletes took on the rest of the world, and their individual marks being converted to points using the combined events scoring tables. Both teams tried to beat Kevin Mayer’s world decathlon record score of 9126 in the men’s events and Caroline Kluft’s European heptathlon record score of 7032 in the women’s events.
The Swedish men – helped, of course, by Stahl’s and Duplantis’s performances – won the virtual decathlon contest with a score of 10,526, while the women’s squad was also victorious, amassing 7083 points.
Jon Mulkeen for World Athletics