Men's throws | 03.01.2013
|David Storl won at the Helsinki 2012 European Athletics
Championships and claimed silver at London 2012.
Germany’s 2011 IAAF World Championships gold medallist and 2011 European Athletics Rising Star of the Year David Storl, still only 22, was the continent's top performer indoors.
Storl achieved an indoor best of 21.40m at the German championships in his last meeting prior to going to the World Indoor Championships. In Istanbul, he then produced 21.43m with his first throw in qualifying and continued tapping into that vein of form with another best of 21.88m in the first round of the final, which won him the silver medal.
In the summer, Storl went to the European Athletics Championships in Helsinki with a 2012 outdoor best of 21.13m but quickly improved upon that with his first throw of 21.19m in the final before winning his first European title as a senior with a distance of 21.58m.
He finished more than a metre in front of the Dutch silver medallist Rutger Smith, who was second with 20.55m.
Storl once again showed his ability to rise to the occasion when he opened with an outdoor personal best of 21.84m in the Olympic final and then beat that in the second round with a heave of 21.86m to take the silver medal behind Poland’s 2008 Olympic champion Tomasz Majewski.
Majewski defended his title in style, throwing 21.72m in round two before taking the lead in the next round with 21.87m and clinching his second Olympic victory with his last throw of 21.89m, a season’s best and just six centimetres short of his national record of 21.95m set in 2009.
The Olympic win was the icing on the cake for Majewski, who also took the bronze medal at the World Indoor Championships with a national indoor record of 21.72m.
Behind Europe's big two men, the next best European thrower by distance was Russia's Maksim Sidorov who threw a personal best of 21.51 to win the Russian title but fell rather short of that mark in London and only finished 11th in the Olympic final.
Germany's Robert Harting had a marvellous year that saw him ranked in the upper echelon of most reputable World Athlete of the Year polls.
The 28-year-old Berlin athlete had an undefeated 2012 campaign with 12 wins in 12 contests and two 70-metre competitions within the space of three days in May.
He threw 70.31m in the German town of Halle, the first 70-metre throw of his career, and then unleashed the best throw in the world this year when he reached 70.66m at the Ludvik Danek Memorial in Turnov, Czech Republic.
Number seven on his list of victories in 2012 was a win at the European Athletics Championships in Helsinki with 68.30m, winning by almost two metres from Estonia's 20008 Olympic champion Gerd Kanter.
Harting then didn’t compete again before London, but despite a tight contest where he was behind until the fifth round, he eventually prevailed with a throw of 68.27m.
The German is currently the holder of Olympic, world and European titles for his event and the only defeat at a major championship since his 2009 World Championships gold medal was at the 2010 European Athletics Championships, where he was defeated by Poland’s Piotr Malachowski.
However, Harting can certainly not afford to relax despite his apparent domination.
European throwers filled six of the top seven places at the Olympics and, in the defence of his title from four years ago in Beijing, Kanter finished third.
Lithuania’s Virgiljus Alekna, now 40, held on to the bronze medal position until the fifth round before Kanter overtook the 2000 and 2004 Olympic champion with a 68.03m season’s best for the bronze medal.
Alekna finished in fourth place with 67.38m but achieved the 20th competition in his career over 70 metres with a 70.28m season’s best on home soil in Klaipeda in June.
Behind the two 70-metres throwers Harting and Alekna on the 2012 European list, Malachowski had his best throw for almost two year's when he threw 68.94m to finish second behind the former in Halle and he went on to finish fifth at the Olympics.
In addition to the above quartet, there were two other Europeans threw over 68 metres this year, which augers well for the future.
Germany’s Martin Wierig, 25, achieved a personal best of 68.33m at home in Schönebeck in July and then placed sixth at the Olympics.
Great Britain’s 21-year-old 2011 European Athletics U23 Championships gold medallist Lawrence Okoye beat his own British record of 67.63m from last year with 68.24m in Halle He reached the final at both the European Athletics Championships and at the Olympics but slightly under-performed at both events, finishing in 12th place in both competitions.
Hungary’s Krisztian Pars followed up his bronze medal at the 2010 European Athletics Championships and a 2011 World Championships silver with victories at both the 2012 European Athletics Championships and Olympic Games.
In fact, the 2012 season was a nearly perfect one and he only suffered one loss in 16 outings.
In Helsinki, and despite wet condition making big distances difficult, Pars took the lead from the start with a 78.57m throw in round one before he improved to 79.40m with his next throw, and then 79.72m in round four.
All five of his valid throws were better than Russia's Aleksiy Zagorniy, whose best effort to get the silver medal was 77.40m.
It was a similar story in London just over a month later.
Pars, 30, opened with a good 79.14m to immediately take the lead and although Slovenia’s 2008 Olympic champion Primoz Kozmus was close behind with 78.97m, Pars became the only athlete to reach 80 metres in the competition when he sent his hammer out to 80.59m in round three.
Kozmus secured his silver medal when he threw a season’s best of 79.36m in the penultimate round.
Seven throwers, all European, threw over 80 metres in 2012 but only two of that group were able to do it in unfamiliar surroundings on foreign soil. In addition to Pars, the only other man to achieve that status was Poland’s 23-year-old Pawel Fajdek.
The 2011 European Athletics U23 Championships gold medallist was also the only athlete to beat Pars during 2012 when he won in Montreuil, France, with a personal best of 81.39m. Unfortunately, he failed to show his abundant potential in London and had three fouls in the qualification rounds.
European throwers also filled seven out of the first eight places at the Olympics, with Ukraine's Oleksey Sokryskyy bouncing back after his three fouls in the European final to finish fourth.
The 29-year-old Czech thrower Vitezslav Vesely takes the honours as Europe's leading thrower, at least on distance.
Vesely only suffered two losses in eight competitions before the Olympic Games and won the European Athletics Championships gold medal with 83.72m.
He won with 88.11m at the Samsung Diamond League meeting in Oslo before reaching a 2012 world-leading mark of 88.34m in the Olympic qualification round.
However, he under-performed in the final and could only manage 83.34m for fourth place.
The leading European in London, behind the the shock Trinidad and Tobago teenage winner Keshorn Walcott, was Ukraine’s silver medallist Oleksandr Pyatynytsa.
Pyatynytsa was in great shape at the start of his season and reached 86.12m in the first competition back in May but could then only finish fifth at the European Athletics Championships.
However, he quickly recovered from that disappointment with a confidence-boosting win at the Paris Diamond League meeting, where he threw 85.67m, and took the Olympic silver with 84.51m.
Finland’s Antti Ruuskanen only narrowly made it to the final but then threw 84.12m for the bronze medal.
Another Finn, 2007 world champion and two-time European Athletics Championships medallist Tero Pitkämäki mistimed his peak for the major championships, finishing 11th in front of his own fans in Helsinki and then fifth in London, but showed what he was capable of by winning at the Diamond League meeting in Stockholm with 86.98m.
Ruuskanen then got the domestic bragging rights when he reached a 87.79m personal best for the Finnish national title, the first of his career, before Pitkämäki ended the season with good wins in Zürich with 85.27m and then the traditional match against Sweden in Göteborg with 86.86m.
Noticeable this year was the drop in form of Norway's Andreas Thorkildsen, the winner at the 2004 and 2008 Olympic Games, the 2006 and 2010 European titles and the 2009 World champion. His disappointing fourth place finish in Helsinki was followed by sixth in London.
Another big name to struggle in 2012 was Germany’s 2011 World Championships gold medallist Matthias de Zordo, who had persistent injury problems and whose season came to an end with three fouls in the Olympic qualifying rounds.
The 2012 European top 30 lists can be found here.