The European Throwing Cup was initially scheduled to take place in Leiria, Portugal in its traditional mid-March slot on the calendar but owing to the coronavirus pandemic, the event will now be going ahead at a new location as well as on different dates.
This year’s edition of the European Throwing Cup is due to begin one month today (8) in the new host city of Split, Croatia on 8-9 May and according to the provisional entries, the interest among the continent’s throwers is still exceptionally high.
Despite the late staging of the event, more than 400 throwers from 43 Member Federations have expressed an interest in competing in this year’s competition which takes place at the Stadion Park Mladezi.
While predominantly used for football, the Stadion Park Mladezi also has a proud history of staging athletics events. The stadium was renovated primarily for the 1979 Mediterranean Games and the arena also played host to the 2008 edition of the European Throwing Cup, the last time Croatia staged this event which dates back to 2001 in terms of antiquity.
At the 2008 European Throwing Cup, Poland’s Anita Wlodarczyk handed recently crowned world champion Betty Heidler from Germany a surprise defeat in the hammer - 71.84m to 71.10m - and Estonian great Gerd Kanter was at the height of his powers in the discus, winning for a fifth time at the European Throwing Cup ahead of soon-to-be world champion Robert Harting from Germany.
On that occasion, a 17-year-old Sandra Perkovic finished a lowly 19th in the discus with 47.25m but from this humble debut on the senior stage, the home superstar has added almost 25 metres to her lifetime best since then and is arguably the greatest female discus thrower in history.
Perkovic seldom competes at the European Throwing Cup - her last appearances dates back to 2012 when she won the U23 competition in Bar, Montenegro with a championship record of 67.19m - but the local organisers will be hoping the heroine of Croatian athletics will take to the discus circle in Split one month from now.
And while the European Throwing Cup seldom features on Perkovic’s schedule, the five-time European discus champion traditionally opens her season in the Stadion Park Mladezi, the usual host of the Croatian Winter Throwing Championships. It was at this competition in this arena where Perkovic surpassed the 70 metre-line for the first time in her illustrious career, reaching out to 70.51m in 2014.
There will also be high expectations on fellow Olympic champion Sara Kolak if she competes in the javelin. Now based in Norway under the tutelage of two-time Olympic champion Andreas Thorkildsen, Kolak won the U23 division of the javelin on her last appearance at the European Throwing Cup in Las Palmas in 2017.
One of the standout individual performances in European Throwing Cup history came the following year later in the same event when Germany’s world champion Johannes Vetter smashed the event record by more than seven metres, reaching out to a phenomenal early season effort of 92.70m in Leiria. That record remains one of the most secure on the books unless Vetter himself makes himself available for selection in Split next month.
Final entries for the European Throwing Cup will be available at the end of the month. There will also be comprehensive coverage of the event on the European Athletics website and live streaming details will be communicated nearer to the event.