It could be another historic year for Croatia's Sandra Perkovic and already she finds herself in the place where she wants to be – as world leader in the discus.
Competing at home in Split on Saturday (7), Perkovic threw 65.93m to top the early season world lists and set the sort of standards she will hope to keep throughout the 2020 season.
No woman has won three Olympic discus golds - let alone three in a row - but that will be Perkovic's aim in Tokyo this summer. At the end of August in Paris, Perkovic will also look to take gold for an unprecedented sixth time at the European Athletics Championships having won her first title all the way back in Barcelona a decade ago.
A knee injury last year meant Perkovic was short of the form which has taken her to so many accolades since then but she did come away with a bronze medal at the World Athletics Championships in Doha.
Perkovic won her season’s opener by more than five metres from her improving teammate Marija Tolj who was second with 60.75m. Tolj won the European U23 title in Gavle last year and also prevailed in the U23 competition at the European Throwing Cup in Samorin twelve months ago. This year’s edition takes place in Leiria, Portugal on 21-22 March.
Martin Markovic won the men's discus with 63.00m and after a brilliant indoor season during which he won the World Indoor Tour and set three national indoor records, Filip Mihaljevic reached out to 21.69m in the shot put - one centimetre shy of Tom Walsh’s world leading mark set the previous day.
Vilagos smashes world U18 best in the javelin
Adriana Vilagos is only 16 - and remains in the U18 ranks until 2021 - but the Serbian already begins as a resounding candidate for gold at the European Athletics U20 Championships this July.
At the Serbian Winter Throwing Cup in Sremska Mitrovica on Saturday, Vilagos added three metres to the world U18 best in the javelin with a 500g implement, reaching out to 68.76m.
This effort surpassed her personal best of 64.73m and also beat the previous world U18 best of 65.90m held since last year by Greece’s Elina Tzenggo.
Halasz and Ceh also impress on the road to Leiria
World bronze medallist Bence Halasz has a fine record of success at the European Throwing Cup and he demonstrated his superb form heading towards Leiria.
At the Hungarian Winter Throwing Championships in Szombathely on Saturday, Halasz triumphed with an excellent winning effort of 76.66m and in the process beat his veteran teammate and 2012 Olympic champion Krisztian Pars who was second with 73.24m.
Halasz, who finished second in the U23 category last year, also broke his lifetime best in the discus with 57.06m to finish behind Janos Huszak (63.03m) and Robert Szikszai (61.20m).
Reka Gyuratz won the women’s hammer with 68.96m and in the women’s discus, there was a good win for 2018 world indoor shot put champion Anita Marton as she triumphed with 57.16m. In the javelin, there were wins for Norbert Rivasz-Toth, last year’s European Throwing Cup runner-up, with 80.97m and Reka Szilagyi with 61.29m.
Reigning European U23 discus champion Kristjan Ceh from Slovenia also achieved a notable performance at the Slovenian Winter Throwing Cup in Ptuj on Saturday. Ceh, who won gold in Gavle last July with 63.82m, produced the second longest mark of his career in Ptuj with 63.48m to win the contest.
Cienfuegos records 76.13m in the hammer at the Spanish Winter Throwing Cup
At the Spanish Winter Throwing Cup in Montril, world finalist Javier Cienfuegos continued his fine early season form in the hammer. One month after opening his season with a since surpassed world lead of 77.52m, Cienfuegos landed the hammer out to 76.13m
There were also notable performances from Manu Quijera (79.70m) and Arantxa Moreno (58.44m) who won the javelin titles while at the Portuguese Winter Throwing Cup in Vagos, Irina Rodrigues won the discus with 62.81m ahead of Liliana Ca who also surpassed the 60-metre line with 60.11m.
And in Loughborough, Great Britain’s Taylor Campbell broke his personal best to win the hammer with 74.98m.
Mayo and Moller clinch domestic cross country success
With the cross country season approaching its conclusion, multiple SPAR European Cross Country Championships medallist Carlos Mayo won the senior men’s 10.3km at the Spanish Cross Country Championships in Zaragoza in 29:07 from Antonio Abadia (29:21) while steeplechase specialist Irene Sanchez-Escribano won the senior women's crown in 34:26 from Carolina Robles (34:37).
Two-time European U23 cross country champion Anna Emilie Moller won the senior women’s race at the Danish Cross Country Championships in Roskilde in 35:00 while Mikkel Dahl-Jessen upset long-time international Abdi Ulad in the men’s race - 31:30 to 31:56.
Mahamed Mahamed (37:21) and Charlotte Dannatt (43.01) won the British Inter-Counties in Loughborough over 12km while in Sindelfingen, the senior long course German titles went to Samuel Fitwi Sibhatu (32.34 at 9.9km) and Domenika Mayer (21:34 at 5.5km).