Hungary’s Anita Marton won her first global title at the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Birmingham last weekend and she will be looking to close her winter season with her sixth successive win of 2018 at the European Throwing Cup in Leiria, Portugal on 10-11 March.
Marton won at the European Throwing Cup in warm and sunny climes in Las Palmas, Spain twelve months ago and the 29-year-old, who will also be contesting the discus in Leiria, is one of the firmest favourites across the two day programme.
She won gold in Birmingham last weekend, improving her world-lead to 19.62m in the sixth round which she describes as “her speciality.” Last summer at the World Championships in London, Marton moved from bronze to silver with 19.49m with her last throw and her lifetime best of 19.87m was set in the sixth round of the 2016 Olympic Games.
Marton is one of three throwers aiming to defend their titles at the European Throwing Cup along with France’s Alexandra Tavernier in the hammer and Slovenia’s Martina Ratej in the javelin.
World record-holder Anita Wlodarczyk won’t be competing in Leiria but the Poles will still fancy their chances in the hammer courtesy of 23-year-old Malwina Kopron, the reigning world bronze medallist and the World University Games champion from last season.
Kopron, who improved to 76.85m last season, has the best lifetime best on paper but the season’s lists are headed by Belarus’ Hanna Malyshik with 73.25m. Meanwhile, the U23 division includes former world U18 champions Reka Gyuratz from Hungary and Authorised Neutral Athlete Sofiya Palkina.
Now 36, Ratej is a stalwart of the European Throwing Cup, producing her first victory, albeit in the B Pool, in 2008 when she set a Slovenian record of 63.16m.
Like most of her main rivals, this will be her first competition of 2018 and Ratej will go up against the German pair of Christin Hussong and former world champion Katharina Molitor who will both no doubt have the Berlin 2018 European Athletics Championships already on their minds.
Two outstanding multi-eventers will also compete in the javelin in Leiria: Switzerland’s Geraldine Ruckstuhl and Ukraine’s Alina Shukh. Ruckstuhl, who also holds the Swiss javelin record with 58.31m, will compete in the senior pool but Shukh will compete instead in the U23 competition.
In the U23 competition, Shukh will come up against Turkey’s Eda Tugsuz who, like Croatia’s Sara Kolak did last year, could produce the longest throw of the competition in the U23 division.
There could be some home success for the home nation on the women’s side in the discus. Irina Rodrigues has already gone out to a season’s best of 62.37m and she was third when Leiria staged the 2015 edition which was won by Germany’s Nadine Muller, who also holds the championship record at 68.89m from 2012.
Muller will be in action this weekend along with teammate Kristin Pudenz. Authorised Neutral Athlete Yuliya Maltseva, who has a 63.48m PB, could also feature.