Following in the footsteps of an all-time great such as Virgilijus Alekna might be a daunting prospect but Andrius Gudzius will ensure Lithuania has a medal contender in the event at the IAAF World Championships in London this August.
A former world U20 champion in the event, Gudzius has struggled with injuries in recent seasons but the 26-year-old is beginning to fulfil the vast promise he demonstrated as a teenager. After finishing second at the European Winter Throwing Cup in Las Palmas in March, Gudzius improved his lifetime best to 67.38m in wintry conditions in Kaunas the following month.
That early season mark was soon supplanted as the European-lead but Gudzius quickly regained that mantle at the Lithuanian University Championships on Saturday (3) in Kaunas again with a mark of 68.61m to move to second on the world lists, although he was expecting more.
'I expected 70 metres today but I somehow felt tired after training,” he told local media after the competition. “For other competitions, I hope the weather conditions will be good this year so I can throw 70 metres somewhere.”
Anita Wlodarczyk duly extended her unbeaten streak to 34 competitions on Saturday in Sao Bernardo do Campo, her first competition on Brazilian soil after winning the Olympic title in Rio de Janeiro last summer with a world record of 82.29m - a mark which she has since improved to 82.98m.
Wlodarczyk was nearly five metres down on her world record-breaking form but her best throw of the afternoon of 78.00m was more than sufficient for victory.
“I am very happy with the result, which was somewhat what we were expecting at this time of the season. I expect to reach my top form at the London World Championships in August,' she said.
There was also some good hammer throwing on Sunday in the annual event in Frankisch-Crumbach, Germany. Ida Storm finished second with a Swedish record of 71.52m while Britain’s Chris Bennett won the men’s competition with 75.72m.
Another Swedish record in the throws came courtesy of Fanny Roos who improved her Swedish U23 shot put record to 18.13m in Raasepori, Finland.