Harting celebrates his homecoming -and clears three hurdles | 03.09.2012
But Harting had to watch as the 2010 European champion, Piotr Malakowski of Poland, took the lead in the first round and provocatively gestured he was number one at the crowd.
It was maybe not a good idea to provoke the German Olympic champion, but Harting came out smoking in the second round to hurl the implement out to 67.40, the winning distance. Briefly he imitated the Pole's gesture, but then simply broke into a smile. Behind him, Lithuanian Virgilius Alekna, who can still show the youngsters a thing or two with his excellent technique at the age of 40, threw his way into second place in the final round to push Malakowski down into third.
As he completed his final throw, Harting knelt down to kiss the circle before setting off on his lap of honour that was more a celebration of his Olympic title than victory in Berlin. Draped in the flag of his club, SCC Berlin, he even cleared three hurdles that had undoubtedly been set out for him in the home straight in an echo of his London winning celebration.
"You could see that the other guys were trying to make me angry," said Harting. "It went right down to the wire. You always have to keep an eye on things. You cannot take anything lightly. It was a great feeling, just like in London."
France's Jimmy Vicaut failed in his attempt to dip under 10sec for the 100m, but still ran well isolated out in lane nine to cross the line third in 10.12 to equal his silver medal winning performance in the European championships.
Arguably the performance of the afternoon came in the 110m hurdles when, with little opposition to speak of, Aries Merritt set a new meeting record of 12.97 to continue his extraordinary season. Berlin represented the American's ninth race under the 13sec barrier this season: "It feels good to come back to Berlin and redeem myself," said Merritt who has a German coach. In the 2009 world championships, held in the same stadium, Merritt failed to get past the first round.
Bjoern Otto took some to get going in the pole vault– he needed three attempts at 5.58 – but then relaxed and cleared 5.68 and then 5.78 at the first attempt before three failures at 5.83, but his job was already done. In second place fellow-German Malte Mohr could not get past 5.68: "It was almost an Olympic atmosphere out there," declared Otto referring to the packed stands. "But there was a headwind that was not so easy to deal with."
Russian Aleksandr Menkov won the long jump with exactly 8.00m in round three and then took no more part in the competition: "I stopped after round three because I am competing next week in Brussels," explained the Russian.
In the shot, double Olympic shot put champion, Tomasz Majewski of Poland, finished second with a heave of 21.31, beaten by American Reese Hoffa by the slender margin of 6cm.
The B100m was won by Briton Harry Aikines Aryeety in a season's best 10.22: "I have only just come into form at the end of the season after a couple of injuries," said the Briton. "I am just happy to set a season's best."
On the women's side, Beijing Olympic champion Pamela Jelimo of Kenya just held on to win the 800m in 1:58.68. The leading European was Britain's Marilyn Okoro in sixth in 2:00.54.
The discus had been held a day earlier with the Olympic silver medallist, Darya Pishchalnikova of Russia (65.47), finishing second to Cuba's Yipsi Moreno by a little more than a metre.
A relaxed Betty Heidler sent the hammer out to 75.18 in the fifth round to a huge roar from the crowd to win the competition - though all of her six throws were better than Cuban Yipsi Moreno's efforts. Yet again, Heidler defeated Russia's Tatyana Lysenko on home turf after a major championships. She did it last year after the Russian came to Berlin as the world champion and this year Lysenko was once again beaten by the German, finishing no higher than fourth this time. "I really enjoyed it here before, during and after the competition," said the Olympic bronze medallist. "Like Robert Harting I live in Berlin, this is my home. The absolute aim was to win here," said Heidler. Job done.
A fabulous javelin went down to the wire when, with her final throw, Olympic champion, Barbora Spotakova of the Czech Republic sent the spear out to 66.83. It looked good enough to win, but she was upstaged by South Africa's Sunette Viljoen with her final attempt of 67.52.
Olympic silver, Christina Obergfoell of Germany, this time had to settle for third with 62.57 despite her coach and boyfriend Boris Henry filming every throw and following it up with advice. "My elbow hurt a bit, so I am happy that I still finished third," commented the Olympic silver medallist.