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LetsRun.com's 2009 IAAF Berlin World Championships Preview
Men's Shot Put - First Berlin Final Should Be A Barnburner
The men's shot put has to be considered one of the world's most interesting athletics events in 2009. The top competitors face each other often, finishing in a different order almost every time. In 2008, the American shot put team entered Beijing as the 1-2-3 world leaders on the performance list, only to eke out silver thanks to Christian Cantwell.
In 2009, Olympic champion Tomasz Majewski will likely enter as the favorite, though he spent much of the year behind the Americans on the top lists. Cantwell, Reese Hoffa and Dan Taylor occupied the top 3 spots on the world list until July 30, when Majewski entered the circle in Stockholm and had easily the most impressive series of throws any shot putter has had this year.
From best to worst, Majewski threw 21.95, 21.83, 21.65 and 21.44 with 2 fouls (all throws in meters). 21.95m is a new Polish record by 27cm and pushed Majewski into the world lead. To drive home the point even further, the 5th-best thrower in the world this year has only thrown 21.13m in 2009.
Of the world's top 4, the strongest appears to be Majewski, thanks to his DN Galan performance alone. The weakest is Dan Taylor, whose 2009 best of 21.78 came in Arizona. He has failed to win against the other big guys in Europe and his second-best performance is only 21.38. Majewski bettered that mark 4 times in Stockholm alone.
The favorite for silver should be Cantwell. Silver in Beijing, world indoor champion in 2008, US champion in 2009, Cantwell rises to the challenge when it counts. He has thrown 21.82 twice this season and is relatively consistent. Then again, so is Reese Hoffa. Hoffa has won in Doha, Athens, Hengelo and Pre this year, notching the world's #2 throw at 21.89m and also heaving wins thanks to 21.64, 21.55 and 21.53. It looks like Hoffa will be earning a medal barring a meltdown.
And what of American legend Adam Nelson? Nelson, now 34, often is the star of the show on competition day with his fan-friendly pre-throw routine of ripping off his shirt, throwing it down and yelling. He competes with the energy of a kid, though he is a massive, balding barn of a man. Nelson is Mr. Silver in the shot, racking up 2 Olympic and 4 World Championship silvers, plus his coveted win in the 2005 Helsinki World Champs.
Nelson, thanks to the 4-man US squad, will be competing in Berlin again this year. He spent much of this year mired in a mini-funk. But he turned it around - his 21.07m throw in London boosted him to 8th on the world list, though still a far cry from his 22.12m spot atop the 2008 world list. He had massive problems in Beijing, and failed to make the final due to sector and foot fouls. It's hard not to root for Nelson. If he can find his old form and somehow medal in 2009, it will have to go down as one of his more amazing performances among a plethora in his legendary career.
Update 7/31: Jamaican Dorian Scott out with injury.
Men's Shot Put Statistics By Coach John Kellogg
21.95 Tomasz Majewski (POL) Gold medal in 2008 Olympic Games, bronze medal in 2008 World Indoor Championships, 5th in 2007 World Championships, 7th in 2006 World Indoor Championships, 9th in 2005 World Championships