Johannes Vetter produced his best throw for more than two years to win the javelin at the Paavo Nurmi Games in Turku on Tuesday (11), providing the highlight of the first World Athletics Continental Tour Gold meeting of 2020.
In what was perhaps the highest quality outdoor meeting of the year so far – and, with about 6000 fans, certainly one of the best attended – Vetter’s 91.49m was one of six meeting records set tonight in the Finnish city. The other standout performance came from world champion Daniel Stahl, who added almost three metres to the meeting record in the discus.
Since opening his season in late July, 2017 world champion Vetter has improved with each competition. The German recorded three fouls in his season opener in Zweibrucken but then found his rhythm in Kuortane on 1 August, winning with 86.94m. Eight days later, he won the German title with 87.36m.
It didn’t take him long to settle into the competition in Turku as he sent his spear out to 91.49m in the opening round, adding 21 centimetres to the meeting record set by compatriot Thomas Rohler in 2016, the year in which he won the Olympic title.
Vetter took three more throws, and although he didn’t improve on his opening mark, any one of them would have been enough to win: 87.59m, 88.57m and 86.42m.
European silver medallist Andreas Hofmann, a 90-metre thrower at his best, unleashed a season’s best of 85.24m in the fourth round to move into second place. Latvian champion Gatis Cakss was third with 82.65m, just ahead of Hungary’s Norbert Rivasz-Toth (82.22m).
“The big throw was a surprise,” said Vetter, who took bronze at the World Championships last year. “I didn’t want to risk too much because I felt a little bit tired.”
One day after throwing a world-leading 71.37m in Sollentuna, Stahl was close to the 70-metre line once again in Turku.
Understandably, given the tight turn around, he needed a couple of rounds to get into the groove in Turku, but after registering fouls in the first two rounds, he sent his discus out to 69.23m in round three to add almost three metres to the meeting record.
Lithuania’s 2017 world champion Andrius Gudzius, who opened with 65.55m before throwing 66.39m in round three, was relegated to second place, marginally ahead of Slovenia’s Kristjan Ceh, who threw 66.07m in round three.
Stahl’s fifth-round throw was measured at 70.20m, but after the conclusion of the competition it was ruled a foul.
"I just heard it [about the disqualification of his 70.20m throw] when I came to the mixed zone," said Stahl. "If the judge says it's a foul, it's a foul. I didn't feel it in the circle, that I was fouling, but I'm pretty happy that I showed the people that I could throw 70m with a tailwind.
"It has been such a great evening," he added. "6000 people here, a Finnish crowd screaming at me because I'm half Finnish – it's such a great feeling. In Sweden there have only been like 50 people, because of the restrictions around the corona situation. So, yes, totally different here than back home and in other countries."
World leads from Visser and Pozzi
In a competitive 100m hurdles final, European indoor champion Nadine Visser emerged victorious in 12.68, her fastest time outside of the World Championships last year.
The Dutch hurdler finished a metre ahead of Italy’s Luminosa Bogliolo (12.79) and Hungary’s Luca Kozak, who set a PB of 12.83. Finnish record-holder Annimari Korte was fourth in 12.89.
"I'm really happy," said Visser. "It's my first really big competition. I've had quite a lot of time to train, of course, and it's going well, and I felt like I could do what I've shown in training, so now I'm looking forward to more competitions."
After impressing in the heats with 13.25, Britain’s world indoor champion Andrew Pozzi was a clear winner of the 110m hurdles final with 13.17, the second-fastest time of his career. It also shaved 0.01 from the meeting record. France’s Wilhem Belocian was second in 13.38.
Pozzi’s compatriot Melissa Courtney-Bryant was even more dominant. The European indoor bronze medallist ran away from the field in the second half of the 1500m to win in 4:03.69, just a quarter of a second shy of the PB she set when taking bronze at the 2018 Commonwealth Games. Belgium’s Elisa Vanderelst finished more than five seconds adrift to take second place in 4:09.32.
Greece’s Nikoleta Kiriakopoulou took victory in the pole vault on countback from Britain’s Holly Bradshaw. Both women cleared a best of 4.63m to add a centimetre to the meeting record, but Kiriakopoulou’s first-time clearances at the earlier heights gave her the edge.
The other jumping events were similarly close as just two centimetres separated Jazmin Sawyers from fellow Briton Abigail Irozuru in the long jump, 6.54m to 6.52m. Sawyers’ leap equalled the meeting record set 23 years ago by Hungary’s Tunde Vaszi.
Kristiina Makela’s 14.12m delighted the home crowd as the Finn won by four centimetres from Bulgaria’s Gabriela Petrova.
Elsewhere, Italy’s Lamont Marcell Jacobs held off CJ Ujah to win the 100m in 10.11 (1.3m/s), while Finland’s Topi Raitanen took a comfortable victory in the 3000m steeplechase with 8:22.45.
At the start of the competition, Paavo Nurmi Games meeting organisers were presented with their Heritage Plaque.
Jon Mulkeen for World Athletics