Ryan Whiting in the shot put final at the 2014 IAAF World Indoor Championships in Sopot (© Getty Images)
Ryan Whiting extended the US domination of the men’s shot put at the IAAF World Indoor Championships by clinching victory for the USA for the sixth successive edition of the championships, successfully defending the title he won two years ago in Istanbul.
Whiting needed to be on his top form to beat Germany’s two-time world champion outdoors, David Storl, but edged into the lead with a huge fourth-round effort of 22.05m and stayed in pole position for the rest of the contest.
Storl had grabbed the early initiative. Throwing last of the eight finalists, he responded to Whiting’s opening effort of 20.89m by reaching 21.35m at the end of the first round.
Whiting briefly snatched back the lead with 21.47m before Storl again rose to the challenge with a season’s best of 21.79m one round later.
Both men fouled on the third occasion they entered the ring before Whiting regained the initiative with his winning throw, the fourth best competition of the big man’s career and his sixth at 22 metres or better.
If the battle for the gold medal between Whiting and Storl had a certain element of predictability about it following their 11 high-class encounters after their first meeting in the final of the 2011 World Championships – with the victory count 7-4 to Whiting now – the bronze medal was a genuine surprise with New Zealand’s Tomas Walsh getting the remaining place on the podium.
Competing in his first ever indoor competition and following on from his national indoor record of 20.41m in Friday morning’s qualifying session, Walsh improved on that mark three times to finish with an area record of 21.26m, becoming the first man from his country to get a medal at the World Indoor Championships.
Much to the delight of the local crowd, local star and two-time Olympic champion Tomasz Majewski had been in the bronze medal position with his fourth-round effort of 21.04m.
However, the squeals of excitement turned to groans as Walsh overtook him with his last put of 21.26m, which Majewski couldn’t respond to, and the first Polish medal of these championships failed to materialise.
Phil Minshull for the IAAF