German javelin throwers have dominated the men's event over the last three seasons with Thomas Rohler winning the 2016 Olympic and 2018 European titles and Johannes Vetter winning the 2017 world title.
Also no stranger to surpassing the 90-metre mark on a regular basis, Andreas Hofmann also won silver behind Rohler in Berlin last year but he couldn’t quite clinch the World University Games title in 2017 - his final round effort of 91.06m falling short of Chinese Taipei’s Chao-Tsun Cheng’s Asian record of 91.36m.
In their first head-to-head since that incredible competition, the outcome was similarly close in the Shanghai Diamond League on Saturday but Hofmann’s first round world leading mark of 87.55m lasted the test of the six rounds. Cheng threatened in the second and third rounds with 86.93m and then 87.12m with Rohler opening his season with 82.95m to finish fourth.
“I feel a bit lucky with the way the tip landed on my first throw,” said Hoffman, analysing his opening round throw. “The wind was swirling around and I think lots of throwers had difficulties today because of that. Throwing 87.00m for my season opener is not a bad start.”
Competing for the first time since the Glasgow 2019 European Athletics Indoor Championships, Greece’s Ekaterini Stefanidi cleared 4.72m off a shortened run-up. Her first-time clearance at that height proved crucial as she defeated three vaulters only on countback.
“It is always hard to clear big heights off a shortened run-up [12 steps] so early in the season but it is always nice to win,” said the reigning world, European and Olympic champion. “It did not fall in a good training week, hopefully my next competition will fall in a better part of the training cycle.”
First and second at the European Championships last year, Greek teammate Nikoleta Kiriakopoulou was second to Stefanidi on countback. Next was Li Ling whose 4.72m clearance represented an Asian record while world indoor champion Sandi Morris also cleared 4.72m.
We are off again Started my outdoor season in Shanghai with a win. I will be back on the runway in a couple of weeks in Rome at @goldengala_roma @Diamond_League #nike #stoiximan #ibank #helpe #toyota #tempur #seventeen #lorvenn pic.twitter.com/GpY2XO9Ww4
— Katerina Stefanidi (@KatStefanidi) May 18, 2019
Three athletes cleared 2.28m in the men’s high jump. China's Wang Yu cleared the winning height on his first attempt to defeat European silver and bronze medallists Maksim Nedasekau from Belarus and neutral athlete Ilya Ivanyuk - who both needed three attempts - on countback.
Ukraine’s former world and European champion Bogdan Bondarenko made a tentative return in his first competition since August 2017. He cleared 2.19m on his first attempt before bowing out at 2.25m.
On the track, Reece Prescod improved on his winning time of 10.04 from last year but a season-opening European leading mark of 9.97 only sufficed for fourth this year. Noah Lyles pipped Christian Coleman in a world-leading 9.86.