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by Chris Tobin

“Craziness happened last night,” is how Tom Walsh described the men’s shot final at the world athletics championships on his Facebook page.

Walsh, the defending world champion, finished third in Doha on Saturday, in what has been called the greatest shot put competition in history.

“I’m not going to say it doesn’t hurt because it does, but a hell of a comp, boys,” Walsh said.

“Also thanks for all the support I have received from around the world. Next year is going to be one hell of a ride, and I for one am looking forward to it.”

The Timaru builder led the competition from his first throw after a mighty heave of 22.90m until the bitter end when two American rivals saved their best for last.

Jo Kovacs blasted out a 22.91m put, nipping in front of Walsh by a mere centimetre.

Then the Olympic champion, Ryan Crouser, matched Walsh’s effort with 22.90m and claimed the silver medal on a countback.

Walsh fouled on four of his six throws. His other recorded effort was 22.56m, which was the fourth-best.

Brazil’s Darlan Romani placed fourth, with three throws over 22m.

The first four in the field bettered the world championship record of 22.23m, set by Werner Gunthor, of Switzerland, in Rome in 1987.

Kovacs’ winning throw was the third-equal best throw of all time and he became world champion for a second time, having won the title in 2015.

It was the culmination of a great comeback by Kovacs.

“In 2018, I only threw over 21 metres one time,” he said on his Facebook page.

“In 2019, I spent some time looking like a ‘pud’. I lost a meet to an athlete I was coaching, under 20m. I lost to a collegiate athlete, I lost every single diamond league meet I attended, and I was beaten at both indoor and outdoor USA’s.

“I won the title of 2019 World Athletics shot put champion with a PR of 22.91.”