Zunic is a record-breaker

Zunic is a record-breaker
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Stipe Zunic broke the Croatian shot put record with 21.45m in Split on Sunday.

Croatian shot putter Stipe Zunic has been knocking on the door of major honours for the last three years and on Sunday in Split he showed his wait might be over.

With a sensational performance, Zunic, 26, smashed the national record twice in the same day, taking his mark to 21.45m with his final effort, a European lead and the fourth best in the world in 2017.

“At this meeting I had no competition but I was extremely motivated. I am ready for big things,” said Zunic, speaking to zadarskilist.hr.

It was the greatest series of his life, on a day where he began with a personal best of 20.70m and where Edis Elkasevic’s national record of 20.94m had stood since 2005.

But Zunic, a former javelin thrower, beat both those distances in the first round with 21.25m, his first landmark moment in this world championship summer.

After dipping below 20m in rounds two and three, Stipe then stepped out of the circle in the fourth round which would have been a record again as the device landed at 21.43m.

But he was not to be deterred.

Round five saw him break 21 metres again as he reached 21.16m and then, with a glorious final flourish, the last round became the best of them all as he reached 21.45m.

Just over a month ago, Zunic was fifth at the Belgrade 2017 European Athletics Indoor Championships in a career where he was fourth at the Zurich 2014 European Athletics Championships, seventh at the Prague 2015 European indoors and ninth last summer at the Europeans in Amsterdam.

But this weekend has really been such a breakthrough for him because had he recorded 21.45m in Amsterdam, he would have won gold by 14 centimetres from Germany’s champion David Storl.

The Croatian indoor record-holder with 21.11m (from 2015), Zunic, who failed to make the cut in Amsterdam with a best of 19.95m, concentrated more on the javelin in his early athletics career, winning bronze in 2007 at the European Youth Olympic Festival.

Having switched in 2013, he will now have his rivals knowing he is a man who cannot be ignored in the pursuit of the podium.