The former USSR republics accounted for eight of the 12 finalists. These included the two-time former champion Litvinov. His opening throw held up for the bronze medal at the halfway point, but he dropped to seventh thereafter. Once again, Astapkovich was the favourite. But as he had in the Olympic Games, Abduvaliyev beat him when it mattered to become the first Asian men’s World Champion. His winning throw of 81.64 was also an Asian record – though not a national record, as that had been set in 1990 when Tajikistan was part of the USSR.
“My best throw was the best one from the technical point of view. My coach, Anatoliy Bondarchuk, who is now coaching in Portugal, phoned me to say ’You know what to do.’”
The winning throw came in the sixth round, and the two other medal-winning efforts came with the very next two throws from Astapkovich and Gécsek, who had earlier produced a foul in excess of 80m.