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Friday, March 23, 2018

The phenomenal Sandra Perković

Por Fidel Orihuela

The discus throw, in its feminine version, is one of the athletics’ modalities in which there are more than 50 legendary marks to which no one has been even close for more than 20 years. The world record, for example, it still in the hands of the German athlete Gabriele Reinsch after 29 years, with 76.80 meters throw.

Besides Reinsch, there is a long list of German, Rumanian, Bulgarian, Russian and Lithuanian athletes that own the most impressive throws in history, all above the 72 meters. And it is precisely because no one has ever got even close to these registers that the performance of the Croatian Sandra Perković, who has been the best feminine discus thrower of this century, is so relevant.

Perković was born June 21, 1990 in Zagreb, Croatia and since her irruption in the great arenas, she has been a domineering presence in competitions. She has also an impressive physique (height 1.83 m (6 feet) Weight 85 kg (187 lb.), a tremendous technique and a great capacity to be an even better competitor under pressure. That is how she has maintained her domain in the discus throw events since 2010 until today, with only a few absence times. For example, her 69.99 m mark would have been the best in the world in the last twelve years.

A six-month doping suspension after testing positive for a banned psychostimulant kept her out of competition for most of the 2011 season, including the World Championships. In accordance with the IAAF rules, all marks set after her first positive test were annulled, including the mark of 69.99 m set on 2011 but she returned in strong form in 2012, in which she won the gold medal at the Olympics with a new national record of 69.11 m. In 2015, she lost in the Beijing World Championship to the Cuban Denia Caballero but she would defend her Olympic title by winning a second consecutive gold medal in discus throwing at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 2016.

Besides, she has also participated in other maybe not so relevant events in which she has found the motivation to yet achieve great lengths. For example, in the athletic meeting of Galà dei Castelli, in Bellinzona, Switzerland, in July 2017, the Croatian dropped a missile that went to the 71.41 meters, the best register of her career, and national record. No woman had thrown farther in over a quarter century (71.68 m Xiao Yanling from China, in Beijing 14 March 1992) and until today, there have been only five throws above the 71 meters, which clearly speaks of the magnitude of Perković’s achievement.

However, the distance between her records and the best throws in history is still a big one. That amazing throw is only the number 72 best of all times and it still far from the 72, 73 and 74 meters. These distances were often surpassed in the eighties, in which there was not an adequate anti-doping control, so many of these years’ records are today under suspicion. Anyway, Sandra has managed to keep the distance from her fellow competitors and only one, the Cuban Denia Caballero, has surpassed the 70-meter barrier. Perković’s sequence (69.08-71.41-65.77-66.87-69.02-70.05) in Bellinzona, Switzerland, is a historical one too because since 1990 no other woman had surpassed twice the 70 meters and four times the 69 meters in the same competition.