Italian shot putter Zane Weir smashed the European Throwing Cup record with a 21.99m effort - the best outdoor throw in the world this year - on the second day of competition in Leiria, Portugal on Sunday (13).
On a day of high-quality throwing action, the competition’s previous best of 21.32m by Russia’s Aleksandr Lesnoy from 2018, was also eclipsed by Weir’s compatriot Nick Ponzio who finished second.
Ponzio set the tone with a first-round mark of 21.52m, before Weir responded with the eventual winning throw that also put him second on the Italian all-time list behind 1984 Olympic champion Alessandro Andrei and level with Leonardo Fabbri, who holds their national indoor record.
It was also a personal best for Weir, 26, who hurled the shot right to the back of the sector and usurped his previous mark of 21.66m from last summer. Ponzio battled back with a 21.83m PB of his own in the fourth round, which drew applause from supporters in the tightly-packed, intimate setting for the shot put in Leiria.
To his credit, Ponzio managed four throws over 21 metres. In turn, all six throws by third-placed Norway’s Marcus Thomsen - a finalist at the Torun 2021 European Athletics Indoor Championships - were over 20 metres. His best was 20.63m.
The result will give the Italian athletics team great confidence as Weir, who also threatened the 22 metre-line again with his fifth round throw of 21.89m, and Ponzio are set to resume battle at the World Athletics Indoor Championships in Belgrade, Serbia on 18-20 March.
Another reason why they will be smiling is due to Daisy Osakue producing an impressive discus victory to beat Portuguese record-holder and home favourite Liliana Ca, with the rain that was seen on the first day of the event mercifully clearing up on the second day.
While others were getting a mark on the board in the first round, Osakue spun through the circle and let out a roar as the discus floated cleanly through the air and out to 61.56m. The proverbial chasing pack struggled to find the sweet spot, with Ca going over 60 metres with her final go for third place and 60.72m.
Between them was Lisa Brix Pedersen, who recorded a best of 61.23m, three weeks after breaking the Danish record by throwing six centimetres further in Vagos, Portugal.
Unlike Osakue’s early prowess, France’s Alexandra Tavernier left it until the very last round to snatch gold in the women’s hammer with 70.13m. Laura Redondo of Spain had led after producing a 69.72m season’s best at the first time of asking, but the margin was tight as Tavernier, the European silver medallist, was just nine centimetres back after one effort each.
With nothing to lose, the Frenchwoman gave it everything and finally produced the 70-metre throw she was after. In the process, she added to her 2018 victory in Leiria and made it six top-three finishes across seven editions of the European Throwing Cup, stretching back to 2015.
The day’s other senior competition saw Romania’s Alexandru Novac throw 80.49m to win the men’s javelin competition in the same Dr. Magalhães Pessoa Stadium where Johannes Vetter - the second-furthest thrower in history - achieved the 92.70m event record four years ago.
In the U23 category, Türkiye’s national U20 record-holder Alperen Karahan, now 21, produced an excellent series to win the men’s shot put with five throws over 19 metres and a best of 19.81m to win by more than one metre from Muhamet Ramadani, who became Kosovo’s first ever European U20 champion in Tallinn last summer, with 18.60m.
Meanwhile, France’s Amanda Ngandu-Ntumba took the U23 discus crown with 55.38m and her compatriot Teura'itera'i Tupaia topped the javelin standings with 77.21m to ensure France would top the medal table courtesy of three gold medals on the final day.
The final event of the weekend saw Poland’s Ewa Rozanska take centre stage and her best of 67.24m secured the U23 hammer title.
In total, the 16 titles were evenly distributed between 12 nations and 23 countries left Leiria with at least one medal for posterity.
Full results can be found here.