14 December, 2019

Doha Diamond: Kelsey-Lee Barber

  • Barber won silver on home soil at the 2018 Commonwealth Games

Fans at the Muller Anniversary Games saw exactly how Australia’s Kelsey-Lee Barber became javelin world champion – two months early.

The 28-year-old points to the 2017 World Championships in London as a turning point in her career and the 2019 edition of the IAAF Diamond League in the capital proved just as crucial.

Let’s take a closer look at Barber’s golden summer – the first in our ongoing series, #DohaDiamonds, profiling those who lorded it over London and then did the business in Doha.

Learning in London

For South African-born Barber, a young girl inspired by the fervour of the 2000 Olympics, finishing 28th at the 2016 Games in Rio in the throes of injury struggle hit hard.

Then came London. Barber threw a 64.38 PB at the 2017 edition of the Anniversary Games, putting together a solid series in the year Barbora Spotakova smashed the meeting record with 68.26.

“I didn’t undergo any major technical overhauls,” she explained. “I’ve simply picked up a couple of things in terms of the way some of the top girls like Spotakova were moving.”

It was a learning experience at the 2017 Anniversary Games, allied to an affirming tenth-placed finish at the World Championships weeks later, that helped her career take off.

Next level

Back Barber came to the London Stadium in 2018, breaking the 64-metre barrier for the sixth time in her career as a 64.11 placed her third. 

The Aussie thrower went up a level in 2019 and with husband and coach Mike, was based in Europe for three months during the continent’s summer.

Barber has always excelled when it comes to the crunch, the sixth and final throw, and this came to the fore in a highly successful season.

On the back of a 65.61 PB in Townsville, she adjusted quickly to Europe and bettered that by two centimetres on her last hurl at the Diamond League in Lausanne.

And with 67.70, a third personal best in just over two weeks, in Luzern, Barber made the trip to Britain for the Anniversary Games on a roaring high.

Six appeal

European champion Christin Hussong dominated the early stages of the competition on 20 July, going out to 65.73 on her first attempt.

British fans were treated to an exhibition from the world’s best throwers as all but Kara Winger went beyond 60m in the third round, with Barber posting 64.31.

The Australian star pulled out of the bag at the sixth attempt, launching the implement 65.85m to finish second behind Belarus’ Tatsiana Khaladovich.

“I am making a bit of a trend of doing that on the last throw, I would like to get a good throw out earlier but, it makes for entertaining throwing,” said Barber after the event.

“The girls are really pushing me at the moment to throw my best and I appreciate the competition. This is all good experience and I am throwing well when it counts.

“I love the London stadium and I really cherish the moments from the past years and I try to draw on that energy and work through the competition.”

World's her stage

It was next stop Doha and global glory for Barber, who ended a sublime season in the best possible fashion with a world title.

Her winning throw of 66.56 came – you’ve guessed it – in the final round.

Expectation is now high that Barber will challenge for Olympic gold and with women’s javelin once again on the schedule for the 2020 Anniversary Games, she may well shine in London again en route to Tokyo. 

You can see Olympic champions before they’re crowned at next year’s Anniversary Games, the meet forming the perfect send-off for the British team before they head to Tokyo.  

Tickets are now available for both days of the IAAF Diamond League meet HERE