Pawel Fajdek in action in the hammer (© Getty Images)
Poland’s world champion Pawel Fajdek stole the spotlight from his compatriot and women’s hammer world record-holder Anita Wlodarczyk when he fired his implement out to two successive national records at the 61st Janusz Kusocinski Memorial meeting, part of the IAAF Hammer Throw Challenge, on home soil in Szczecin on Sunday (9).
Going into the circle at one of the oldest one-day meetings in Europe, just 30 minutes after Wlodarczyk had provided a crowd-pleasing win with 76.70m, Fajdek immediately threw 83.83m and then, with the roars having barely died down, his second attempt reached 83.93m.
It was the best throw in the world for more than seven years and it moves him up one position to 10th place on the world all-time list.
“With my first throw, I thought it only went out to 80 or 81 metres,” Fajdek told local reporters. “In fact, I wasn’t happy with it despite the distance.”
After a third-round effort of 81.44m, and he remains the only thrower beyond 80 metres in the world this year, he had a foul in the fourth round and passed his final two attempts.
“With my fourth attempt I could feel that all my energy had gone after what I had done in the earlier rounds, so I decided to end my throwing,” he added.
Fajdek’s previous record prior to Sunday was 83.48m, from last August in Warsaw. Great Britain’s Nick Miller took second place on Sunday, finishing above some more illustrious rivals with 75.56m.
The Pole now has an impressive lead in the challenge standings with 247.80 points and it is difficult to see anyone challenging him for the US$30,000 first prize as he bids to regain the title he won in 2013 before finishing second, behind Hungary’s Krisztian Pars, last year.
In fact, Fajdek is assured of a record tally in the challenge.
His current total is almost three metres better than the previous best three-meeting total since the challenge started in 2010, the ‘record’ having been Pars’ 244.84 last year.
There are now just two meetings still to go in this year’s challenge: the IAAF World Championships, Beijing 2015 later this month and then the Rieti meeting in Italy on 13 September.
Despite not competing on Sunday, Tajikistan’s Dilshod Nazarov remains in second place with 235.60 points, which emphasises the gulf this summer between Fajdek and the rest of the world’s top hammer throwers.
Anita Wlodarczyk wasn’t quite in the same shape that saw her improve her own world record to 81.08m (subject to the usual ratification procedures) and become the first female hammer thrower beyond 80 metres barely a week ago but she was still in outstanding form and dominated her rivals in Szczecin.
She steadily improved throughout the competition on home soil and finished with 76.70m.
After a relatively modest 70.56 in the opening round she improved to 76.37m with her second effort to take the lead and then reached 76.66m in the fifth round before improving further by four centimetres with her last attempt.
A distant runner up was former world record-holder Betty Heidler, the German moving up from fourth to second in the last round with 73.37m.
The result, her second best in the challenge, means that Wlodarczyk extends her lead in the challenge and now has a total of 231.04 points. Wlodarczyk also won the challenge in both 2013 and 2014.
Having finally thrown in three eligible meetings, Heidler now moves into second place in the current standings with 222.28 points.
Malachowski and Majewski among the Polish winners
Polish athletes produced a number of other good performances in Szczecin.
There was an outstanding men’s discus competition, no doubt inspired by the earlier hammer exploits of Fajdek.
Piotr Malachowski, who threw a world-leading 68.29m in Cetniewo just over a week ago, took an immediate lead when he threw 66.82m in the first round. The two-time world silver medallist followed it up with two more throws beyond 66 metres with his next two efforts but he could never relax.
Fellow Pole Robert Urbanek reached a season’s best of 66.31m in round two while Estonia’s 2008 Olympic champion Gerd Kanter threw 65.30m in the fourth round.
However, Malachowski clinched the win with a fourth-round throw of 67.49m.
Adam Kszczot prevailed in the expected battle down the home straight with his regular rival Marcin Lewandowski, with the European champion crossing the line in 1:44.67 and Lewandowski, his continental predecessor from four years before, once again having to settle for second 0.3 in arrears.
In fact, even though the pair are closely matched in terms of current and historic times, Kszczot has finished in front in 10 of the past 11 head-to-head encounters.
Joanna Jozwik, the European 800m bronze medallist, won the 600m in 1:25.04, a national record for the non-championship distance and the best in the world for more than three years.
Piotr Lisek took the pole vault with 5.72m while Karolina Koleczek ran faster than she has ever done before when winning the 100m hurdles in a wind-assisted 12.87.
The hugely popular Tomasz Majewski, who turns 34 later this month, may not be currently able to reach the distances that took him to two Olympic shot put gold medals but he is still a more-than-motivated competitor and won his specialist event with 20.69m, snatching the win in the last round.
Phil Minshull for the IAAF