Stratford Stories: Sandra Perkovic
With the meeting a few months away anticipation is quickly rising for what is always one of the highlights in the IAAF Diamond League calendar, so we’ve decided to take a look back at one or two London Stadium heroes.
Double Olympic champion Sandra Perković is definitely one of those. A fan’s favourite after London 2012 gold, the Croatian has followed up in the capital city with Diamond League wins in 2016 and 2018, also becoming world champion here in 2017.
London brings global acclaim
Set in Stratford in England’s bustling capital, the London Stadium was of course built for an exceptional Olympic Games in 2012 that witnessed many an extraordinary moment.
One of those moments belonged to Perković, who started her London love affair with that momentous 69.11m throw in the discus to top the podium, a new national record no less as she held off the challenge of China’s Li Yanfeng (silver) and Cuba’s Yarelys Barrios (bronze).
Zagreb-born Perković had already shot to fame with two European golds at this stage, but London took things to a whole new level.
Four years later
Perković would not return to London Stadium for four years but when she did, the champion discus-thrower earned more Stratford success.
The Muller Anniversary Games win for the Croatian in 2016 was a crucial one, her fifth straight Diamond League triumph of the season that created an unassailable Diamond Race lead over second placed Nadine Muller of Germany.
Perkovic was close to her dominating best as she broke Ilke Wyludda’s 26-year-old meeting record to become one of the stars of that year’s competition.
She had thrown 69.11m to win the Olympic title four years earlier and produced a winning effort of 69.94m to break her own stadium record and seal a first-ever victory at the London meeting.
“I love this stadium,” she commented after that victory. “I won here four years ago and there's always a special feeling competing here.
“This victory is very important for me especially going in to Rio after this competition. It's amazing competing here and an amazing feeling to win in front of this crowd.”
Perkovic of course has dominated women’s discus for much of the last decade, topping the podium more often than not around the world.
Since 2016 two more visits to London Stadium have followed and on each a special occasion has arrived for Perkovic, as she threw a huge 70.31m to become world champion for the third time in August 2017.
Almost 12 months later and Perkovic was enjoying that London adulation once again with her dazzling 2018 Muller Anniversary Games win – four visits and four triumphs.
Still only 28, Perkovic now has 42 Diamond League wins to her name - many more are surely to follow.