2012: Field events

We’ve covered men’s and women’s running (and walking) events. Now we bring out the tape measure for the events you’ll see in great detail (long jump, high jump, shot put) and those you won’t (hammer throw).

ATHLETICS: Field events

Same three sources for 2010 performances: the ever-handy list of top performances, this terrific chart of Diamond League performances and the Diamond League site’s event recaps.

Men’s high jump: World champion/bronze medalist Yaroslav Rybakov tinkered with his form through the year, leaving the Diamond League to fellow Russian Ivan Ukhov. American Jesse Williams was second in the Diamond League but barely in the top 10 among world leaders, with Ukhov and Rybakov leading a large group of Russians.

2008: Andrey Silnov (Russia), Germaine Mason (Britain), Yaroslav Rybakov (Russia).

Projection: Russia, Russia, USA.

Top Americans: Dusty Jonas (2.33 meters in 2010), Andra Manson (2.31), Williams (2.30).

Women’s high jump: You could call 2010 a year of rivalry between Croatia’s Blanka Vlašić and the USA’s Chaunte Howard-Lowe, who tied for the season lead at 2.05 meters, but Vlašić was consistently ahead and won all seven Diamond League competitions. Four European athletes also broke the 2-meter mark.

2008: Tia Hellebaut (Belgium), Blanka Vlašić (Croatia), Anna Chicherova (Russia).

Projection: Croatia, USA, Italy.

Top Americans: Lowe is the only jumper in the top 20 of 2010.

Men’s pole vault: Australian Steven Hooker may never top his 2009 world title, not in terms of height but in terms of unique circumstances. Battling a groin injury and not really sure if he could compete, he entered the competition at 5.85 meters, with only three other athletes left. After missing, he knew he could only win if he cleared 5.90. So he passed his remaining jumps at 5.85, somehow flung himself over the bar at 5.90 and watched as France’s Romain Mesnil and Renaud Lavillenie crashed out. Hooker also posted the top mark (5.95) of 2010 but struggled in the Diamond League, in which Lavillenie held off Germany’s Malte Mohr.

2008: Steven Hooker (Australia), Yevgeny Lukyanenko (Russia), Denys Yurchenko (Ukraine).

Projection: France, Australia, Germany.

Top Americans: Derek Miles will be pushing 40 by 2012 but is still in the world’s top five. Brad Walker struggled last year, but no active athlete has gone higher than his 6.04 meters in 2008.  Climbing are Mark Hollis and youngsters Jason Colwick and Jordan Scott.

Women’s pole vault: The top stars of this event shut down their seasons early and didn’t compete in the Diamond League. World record-holder Yelena Isinbayeva, who has the top 10 all-time vaults thanks to the neat trick of pushing the world record up one centimeter at a time, didn’t compete at all after faltering at the 2009 outdoor and 2010 indoor World Championships. American Jennifer Suhr (formerly Stuczynski) cleared 4.89 meters, just shy of her personal best of 4.92, then missed the rest of the season with nagging injuries. Brazil’s Fabiana Murer held off Russian veteran Svetlana Feofanova for Diamond League honors in their absence. The injuries and Isinbayeva’s wayward 2009 World Championships, in which she waited until the bar was fairly high and then failed to clear any height, make the top two less of a certainty than they might have been.

2008: Yelena Isinbayeva (Russia), Jennifer Suhr (USA), Svetlana Feofanova (Russia).

Projection: Russia, USA, Brazil.

Top Americans: Suhr is the far and away the best, but the USA has depth with Lacy Janson, Becky Holliday and Chelsea Johnson. My fellow Dukie Jillian Schwartz switched nationality to Israel.

Men’s long jump: Dwight Phillips is fast — he ran a 10.06 100 in 2009 — and he has won world titles and Olympic gold. But he missed out on the 2008 Games and is still motivated, winning the 2009 world title and the 2010 Diamond League. Germany’s Christian Reif jumped slightly farther, but with a strong tailwind, and Australia’s Fabrice Lapierre was Phillips’ closest competition in the DL. Olympic champion Irving Saladino had a down year. Phillips will be 34 in 2012 — can he keep going until then?

2008: Irving Saladino (Panama), Godfrey Khotso Mokoena (South Africa), Ibrahim Camejo (Cuba).

Projection: USA, Germany, Australia.

Top Americans: Trevell Quinley and collegian Christian Taylor were closest to Phillips in 2010.

Women’s long jump: Russians had the top three jumps of the year (Olga Kucherenko, Darya Klishina, Lyudmila Kolchanova), yet world champion Brittney Reese of the USA convincingly won the Diamond League. The 2008 medalists were non-factors. Klishina is at the vanguard of Russia’s deep youth movement.

2008: Maurren Maggi (Brazil), Tatyana Lebedeva (Russia), Blessing Okagbare (Nigeria).

Projection: Russia, Russia, USA.

Top Americans: Funny list — after Reese, the two best of 2010 were better-known in other events: high jumper Chaunte Lowe and heptathlete Hyleas Fountain. But they were in the top 10, and the next  group (Funmi Jimoh, Akiba McKinney, Brianna Glenn) wasn’t far behind. Trials will be interesting.

Men’s triple jump: Big event for Europeans in 2010 — France’s Teddy Tamgho won the Diamond League and posted the year’s best jump, British silver medalist Phillips Idowu had a few good performances, and 2004 gold medalist Christian Olsson (Sweden) won a couple of meets. Cuba also has a couple of contenders in Alexis Copello and Arnie David Girat.

2008: Nelson Évora (Portugal), Phillips Idowu (Britain), Leevan Sands (Bahamas).

Projection: France, Britain, Cuba.

Top Americans: Kenta Bell and Christian Taylor were far back in 2010.

Women’s triple jump: The Diamond League race was thrilling, with Cuban world champion Yargeris Savigne edging Kazakhstan’s Olga Rypakova for the top spot. They accounted for most of the year’s top marks, along with Ukraine’s Olha Saladuha and Russia’s Nadezhda Alekhina.

2008: Françoise Mbango Etone (Cameroon), Tatyana Lebedeva (Russia), Hrysopiyi Devetzi (Greece).

Projection: Cuba, Kazakhstan, Russia.

Top Americans: Erica McLain is within a meter of the world lead.

Men’s shot put: American dominance in this event over the past decade has paid off everywhere except the Olympics. With Cory Martin and Ryan Whiting joining the last three world champions — Adam Nelson (2005), Reese Hoffa (2007), Christian Cantwell (2009) — among the world leaders, a couple of medal contenders may be left home after the trials. Cantwell and Hoffa finished 1-2 in the Diamond League, followed by 2008 gold medalist Tomasz Majewski of Poland. Bronze medalist Andrei Misnevich (Belarus) and Dylan Armstrong (Canada) are the next best bets to spoil a USA sweep that has been years in the making.

2008: Tomasz Majewski (Poland), Christian Cantwell (USA), Andrei Mishnevich (Belarus).

Projection: USA, Poland, USA.

Top Americans: See above

Women’s shot put: Bronze medalist Nadzeya Ostapchuk won every Diamond League meet she entered, with gold medalist Valerie Vili-Adams trailing. The two veterans posted the 18 best marks of the year. Silver medalist Natallia Mikhnevich took third in the Diamond League ahead of American Jillian Camarena-Williams, both breaking the 19.40-meter mark along with two from China, two from Germany and yet another from Belarus.

2008: Valerie Vili (New Zealand), Natallia Mikhnevich (Belarus), Nadzeya Ostapchuk (Belarus).

Projection: Belarus, New Zealand, China.

Top Americans: Camarena-Williams is a legit contender; Michelle Carter isn’t too far back.

Men’s discus throw: Check the 2008 results, and you’ll see this is an Eastern European event. That really hasn’t changed, with gold medalist Gerd Kanter posting the year’s top throw, silver medalist Piotr Malachowski winning the Diamond League and Hungarian Zoltan Kovago taking second. Those three, plus Germany’s Robert Harting, accounted for most of the year’s top throws, with one major exception — American Jason Young.

2008: Gerd Kanter (Estonia), Piotr Malachowski (Poland), Virgilijus Alekna (Lithuania).

Projection: Poland, Germany, Hungary.

Top Americans: Young had the year’s second-best throw, Jarred Rome had a couple of good throws, and Casey Malone snared a Diamond League point.

Women’s discus throw: The last two championships have produced surprise winners in American gold medalist Stephanie Brown Trafton and Australian world champion Dani Samuels. The Diamond League, though, had two consistent performers in overall winner Yarelis Barrios (Cuba, 2008 silver medalist) and young Croatia Sandra Perkovic.

2008: Stephanie Brown Trafton (USA), Yarelis Barrios (Cuba), Olena Antonova (Ukraine).

Projection: Cuba, Croatia, Australia.

Top Americans: Becky Breisch was third on the 2010 top-marks list, Aretha Thurmond is still going strong, and Brown Trafton has shown a knack for peaking at the right time.

Men’s hammer throw: The two Belarus athletes who lost and regained their medals (see below) haven’t competed in 2009 or 2010, though their country has a few more throwers on their way up. Olympic and world champion Primož Kozmus announced his retirement and sat out 2010, but he has since decided to return. In their absence, Japan’s Koji Murofushi posted the year’s top mark.

2008: Primož Kozmus (Slovenia), Vadim Devyatovskiy (Belarus), Ivan Tsikhan (Belarus). The Belarussians were stripped of their medals for a doping infraction but won them back on appeal. Krisztian Pars (Hungary) and Koji Murofushi (Japan) temporarily held silver and bronze.

Projection: Japan, Slovenia, Belarus.

Top Americans: A.G. Kruger could make the final.

Women’s hammer throw: World champion Anita Wlodarczyk (Poland) didn’t mind the lack of Diamond League competition, extending her world record by about a foot. She, world championship runner-up Betty Heidler (Germany) and Russian Tatyana Lysenko accounted for the top nine marks of the year and most of the top 20. Only Belarus’ Darya Pchelnik and Cuban silver medalist Yipsi Moreno crashed the party.

2008: Aksana Miankova (Belarus), Yipsi Moreno (Cuba), Zhang Wenxiu (China).

Projection: Poland, Germany, Russia.

Top Americans: Amber Campbell, Britney Henry and Jessica Cosby are in the top 20. Henry is the subject of an interesting blog/film project.

Men’s javelin throw: Isn’t “Andreas Thorkildsen” the perfect name for a javelin thrower? He’s also the perfect thrower. This is his event, and he shows no signs of giving it up. Bronze medalist and umlaut king Tero Pitkämäki chased him through the Diamond League season. But watch for two guys who will be 24 in 2012 — the Czech Republic’s Petr Frydrych and Germany’s Matthias de Zordo.

2008: Andreas Thorkildsen (Norway), Ainārs Kovals (Latvia), Tero Pitkämäki (Finland).

Projection: Norway, Finland, Germany.

Top Americans: Barely in the top 40.

Women’s javelin throw: The reigning medalists were still on top in 2010 — world record-holder and Olympic champion Barbora Špotáková won the Diamond League, silver medalist Mariya Abakumova posted the year’s top mark, and Christina Obergföll won the final Diamond League meet. American Kara Patterson upset Špotáková at the Prefontaine Classic, though Špotáková had to borrow equipment when her luggage didn’t make it to Oregon. Oops.

2008: Barbora Špotáková (Czech Republic), Mariya Abakumova (Russia), Christina Obergföll (Germany).

Projection: Czech Republic, Russia, Germany.

Top Americans: Patterson was second in the Diamond League and had the sixth-best throw of the year. Rachel Yurkovich is the only other chance to reach the final.

Men’s decathlon: Often a solid event for the USA, and that doesn’t seem to be changing. Olympic champion Bryan Clay posted the top score of 2010, with up-and-comer Ashton Eaton second. Trey Hardee is the reigning world champ. But the European Championships were competitive, with Romain Barras (France) edging Eelco Sintnicolaas (Netherlands) and silver medalist Andrei Krauchanka (Belarus). Bronze medalist Leonel Suarez (Cuba) was third to Clay and Barras in a big competition in Gotsis, and he didn’t even post the top mark among Cubans under the age of 23 last year — Yordani Garcia’s score in Havana would’ve been second to Clay.

2008: Bryan Clay (USA), Andrei Krauchanka (Belarus), Leonel Suarez (Cuba).

Projection: USA, France, Cuba.

Top Americans: see above.

Women’s heptathlon: A terrific chance for British gold in London, with Jessica Ennis winning the world championship and posting the top score of 2010, beating gold medalist Nataliya Dobrynska in the process. The third best score belonged to American silver medalist Hyleas Fountain, who was injured in the 2009 U.S. championships and spent part of 2010 competing in individual events. Russian bronze medalist Tatyana Chernova was remarkably consistent in three competitions in 2010. German Jennifer Oeser is the only other contender to emerge so far.

2008: Nataliya Dobrynska (Ukraine), Hyleas Fountain (USA), Tatyana Chernova (Russia). Fountain and Chernova moved up when Lyudmila Blonska (Ukraine) failed a drug test.

Projection: Britain, Ukraine, Russia.

Top Americans: After Fountain, it’s Diana Pickler, Sharon Day and Bettie Wade.

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