London, UK - In the Hungarian town of Szombathely a big video screen had been put up for Sunday night’s Hammer Throw final so that people in the town near to the Austrian border could gather to watch the action from the London’s Olympic Games.
They were keeping their fingers crossed for their local hero, Krisztian Pars. And the 30-year-old did not let his fans down. Producing the only throw beyond the 80m mark (80.59m) in the competition he took the Olympic gold medal. "There will be quite a festival now in my hometown," said the proud Hungarian winner.
Pars continued with a great Hungarian Hammer Throwing tradition. He is already the fifth Olympic champion of his country in this discipline. It was in London in 1948 when Imre Nemeth became Hungary’s first gold medal winner in the Hammer Throw. He was then followed by Jozsef Csermak four years later in Helsinki, Gyula Zsivotzky in Mexico City in 1968 and more recently Balazs Kiss (Atlanta, 1996). Only the USA and the former Soviet Union have won more Olympic gold medals in the Hammer Throw (seven each). The Hungarian Hammer Throwers now have contributed almost half of all the Olympic gold medals their country has ever won in athletics.
As a child Krisztian Pars had done various sports. "I was playing football and handball but I also did Long Jumping and High Jumping," he explains. During the sports lessons at school, ball throwing was practiced regulary. "I was good at this and then I decided that I wanted to become an athlete. So I went to our local club in Szombathely, which had a group of very successful throwers," says Pars. Among those were Szillard Kiss, who had a personal best in the Shot Put of 20.56m, and Tibor Gecsek, who won the gold medal in the Hammer Throw at the Budapest European Championships in 1998. He was third in the World Championships in 1993 and 1995 and features a personal best of 83.68m. The third athlete, who had been competing for the local club and who plays a major role in Krisztian Pars development, is Zsolt Nemeth. He took the silver medal at the World Championships in Sevilla in 1999 and has a personal best of 81.56m. "I had no specific idol when I was young. I admired that group of throwers in our club and I learnt something from all of them," recalls Pars.
Zsolt Nemeth was coached by his father Pal. The renowned throwing coach guided Krisztian Pars into world-class. "He was my childhood coach," he says, praising Pal Nemeth. "Sadly he died in 2009. At the time of his death he assumed that I had won a silver medal at the Beijing Olympic Games. Because of two initial disqualifications Krisztian Pars had moved up to second, but that decision was later annulled. After the death of Pal Nemeth his son Zsolt took over and now coaches the Olympic champion.
Asked about his winning mark of 80.59m Pars said: "I wanted to throw further today, possibly beyond 82 metres. Technically I would have been able to do this. But even when I had my winning throw in round three I was not satisfied with it. Technnically it was not as good as it should have been." He added: "when I can bring it all together in the final then no-one could beat me".
"After the first couple of rounds I saw that it was unlikely that any of the other throwers would achieve a mark beyond 81 metres today. I think if the opposition would have been stronger I would have thrown better. But of course I still had to be aware that something might happen and then I would have had to react," Pars explained.
"I was trying to give it all. But somehow after a couple of rounds I sensed that I had won it. With this in mind my technique was not perfect. My aim today was only to win it."
Now that he has won the most prestigious medal available Pars targets a personal best. "I want to go for that in the next couple of meetings," he said. His PB is already six years old and stands at 82.45m. This year he has come close in Ostrava with 82.28m.
"Being a Hammer Thrower I am still young. So I hope to have a long career ahead," he concluded.