Pawel Fajdek in the hammer final at the IAAF World Championships, Beijing 2015 (© Getty Images)
Pawel Fajdek, one of the warmest favourites at the IAAF World Championships Beijing 2015, lived up to his billing to claim a commanding victory with a best of 80.88m and become the third man in history to retain this title.
The bespectacled Pole illustrated his current dominance of the global hammer scene by producing the three longest throws of the competition to strike gold by a comfortable winning margin of 2.33m.
Dilshod Nazarov became only the second athlete from Tajikistan to win a World Championship medal (the other being two-time world hammer champion Andrey Abduvaliyev) to take silver on countback courtesy of his 78.55m effort from Fajdek’s team-mate Wojciech Nowicki, who elevated himself to bronze with his final throw.
In truth, the final won’t be remembered as one of the all-time great hammer competitions, but for Fajdek that will matter little as he further extended his long unbeaten streak which dates back to March to land the ultimate prize.
“The medal here has an even sweeter taste because my room-mate got the bronze medal,” said an elated Fajdek. “The goal was 80 metres and more, although the first two throws were technically not that good. The third was very important and I was happy to improve with my fourth. Compared to Moscow, the medal is different and had its own value and story.”
The main drama of a low-key first round was preserved for the unfortunate official who was inadvertently knocked off his feet by one of the remote control cars used to retrieve the implements, much to the amusement of the crowd.
For the record, it was Finland’s David Soderberg with 76.92m who was the surprise early leader from Nazarov with Fajdek sitting in third after he dragged his 76.40m effort to the far left side of the sector.
The overall quality of the competition stepped up a notch in round two as Russia’s Sergey Litvinov took a tentative lead with a 77.09m effort only to be surpassed by Nazarov, who greeted his 77.61m throw with a huge roar of delight.
Fajdek, meanwhile, was once again technically amiss with the hammer – which appeared to land in the 78m range – drifting even further left and out of the sector.
Litvinov improved his distance in round three, if not his overall position, with 77.24m and briefly inched closer to the lead only for the Olympic champion Krizstian Pars of Hungary to leapfrog the Russian into second with 77.32m.
However, Fajdek’s third round throw was to shape the overall competition.
Complete with his trademark baggy white vest, he finally nailed a big one, letting out a roar of satisfaction to take control of the competition with 80.64m, a distance not one of his rivals had achieved all year.
As the field was whittled down to eight at halfway, it was Fajdek clear of Nazarov with just 80 centimetres separating silver to seventh place.
A series of fouls blighted a disappointing round four as Fajdek’s pursuers were starting to feel the pressure of his imposing third-round effort.
The only two throws of note came from Nazarov, who improved upon his distance with 78.06m, and the increasingly dominant Fajdek, who added a further 24cm to his previous best with 80.88m, which was ultimately to be his winning throw.
Round five provided few fireworks, although the plucky Nazarov held his hands aloft in triumph after improving by almost half a metre out to 78.55m, and further solidify his grip on silver.
In the final round, Nowicki made his decisive podium move to elbow Pars out of the medal picture.
The Polish No.2 powered the hammer out to 78.55m to precisely match Nazarov’s best distance but he had to settle for bronze on countback.
It is first time since 1991 the same nation has lifted two medals at a men’s hammer final at a World Championships.
Nazarov could only produce a modest final effort of 76.60m and to mark the moment Fajdek greeted the jubilant Polish supporters with a tight fist in the air.
After unleashing a valedictory sixth-round throw of 78.29m, he broke into a slow jog to celebrate his victory before joining his delirious fans and team-mates in the stands ahead of the medal presentation.
Steve Landells for the IAAF