Anita Wlodarczyk celebrates her hammer win at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games (© Getty Images)
Anita Wlodarczyk, already the finest women's hammer thrower of all-time, added another stunning superlative to her career on Tuesday (3) when she became the first woman to win three Olympic titles in the same event.
Wlodarczyk took command of the competition in the third round with a 77.44m effort and was never threatened to add the Tokyo title to her Olympic triumphs in London in 2012 and Rio in 2016. She further padded her lead with a 78.48m throw in the fourth round, fouled in the fifth and, with the victory secured, capped the competition with a 77.02m effort.
"I feel good. I was dreaming of becoming the queen of the hammer throw," said the 35-year-old, who has already stashed away four world titles, four continental crowns and six world records. Underscoring her dominance, until just a few weeks ago, she was the only woman to throw beyond 80 metres.
The victory wasn't as dramatic as her last Olympic win, where she set a world record of 82.29m and produced what were at the time three of the five longest throws in history. But there was a question about her form leading into her fourth Olympic appearance: had she recovered enough from a 2019 knee injury and subsequent surgery that sidelined her from the 2019 World Championships and the entire Covid-19 pandemic-shortened 2020 season?
Early indications were positive. Wlodarczyk opened with a 73.87m effort in her first outing this year and followed up with a 77.93m in Bydgoszcz. She threw a seemingly effortless 76.99m in qualifying two days ago, another good sign.
Once she spun herself into her rhythm tonight, there was no stopping her.
"I have been injured and came back from it in time and won an Olympic gold medal," she said.
Wang Zheng of China came closest, throwing 77.03m in the final round to move up to second and knock Wlodarczyk's teammate Malwina Kopron to bronze to replicate the podium finish at the 2017 World Championships. Kopron's produced her best effort of 75.49m in the fifth round to secure the bronze.
Further back, Alexandra Tavernier of France, the 2015 World Championships bronze medallist, was fourth, reaching 74.41m, just ahead of Canadian Camryn Rogers, who threw 74.35m for fifth.
Bianca Florentina Ghelber of Romania, a finalist at the 2011 and 2013 World Championships, reached a PB 74.18m to finish sixth.
World champion DeAnna Priceof the US, who has been hobbled by a foot injury since the US trials, was eighth, reaching 73.09m.
Bob Ramsak for World Athletics
|WOMEN'S HAMMER MEDALLISTS|
|🥇||Anita Wlodarczyk 🇵🇱 POL||78.48m|
|🥈||Wang Zheng 🇨🇳 CHN||77.03m|
|🥉||Malwina Kopron 🇵🇱 POL||75.49m|