US hammer thrower Gwen Berry (© Getty Images)
World champions Anita Wlodarczyk and Pawel Fajdek headed to the Janusz Kusocinski Memorial off the back of defeats in their most recent competitions, but the Polish duo were once again beaten at the IAAF Hammer Throw Challenge meeting in Chorzow on Friday (8).
On an evening when constant rain delayed proceedings, the women’s hammer was the last event to get under way, some 90 minutes later than planned. But once the competition started, USA’s Gwen Berry was more than ready to go.
Six days prior to this competition, Berry had surrendered her North American record to compatriot Deanna Price, who threw 77.65m in Idaho. Berry wasted no time and sent her hammer out to 77.78m with her opening effort. Not only did it break the continental record, it also added 1.01m to her previous best.
Wlodarczyk, whose four-year winning streak came to an end last month when she managed an uncharacteristic 65.71m in Halle, was under pressure. The three-time world champion and double Olympic champion managed just 69.66m with her first attempt, enough for just sixth place at the end of the first round.
The world record-holder improved to 75.52m with her second throw, but still looked dissatisfied as she trailed Berry by more than two metres.
Berry continued to apply the pressure and produced throws of 75.91m and 77.19m in rounds three and four respectively. Wlodarczyk managed two more throws beyond 75 metres but was unable to improve on her earlier mark and so settled for second place.
Poland’s 2014 European bronze medallist Joanna Fiodorow was third with 74.18m while 2015 world bronze medallist Alexandra Tavernier of France was fourth with 74.09m, the second-best mark of her career.
A similar situation played out in the men’s contest as Fajdek, another three-time world champion, could not quite do enough for victory.
World and Olympic bronze medallist Wojciech Nowicki took an early lead with 76.08m and was then overtaken by Olympic champion Dilshod Nazarov, who threw 76.85m. Fajdek opened with two fouls but then found his groove in the third round with 78.92m to take the lead.
It didn’t last long, though, as Nowciki moved back into pole position with a lifetime best of 80.63m in round four. Fajdek responded with 80.04m but it wasn’t enough to regain the lead. Nowicki, meanwhile, reproduced his leading mark with another 80.63m in round five.
Neither man improved with their final effort, so – as was the case in Turku earlier this week – Nowicki claimed another victory over his more decorated compatriot.
World leads for Dibaba and Gudzius
Competing in just her second outdoor race of the season, double world indoor champion Genzebe Dibaba showed that she is in flying form with a dominant win in the 1500m.
Finishing more than eight seconds ahead of fellow Ethiopian Axumawit Embaye, Dibaba’s winning time of 3:56.68 is the third-fastest outdoor mark of her career and broke the Polish all-comers’ record.
World champion Andrius Gudzius led the discus from the first round, opening with 65.58m and improving to 66.34m in round two. Iran’s Ehsan Hadadi took the lead in round five with 66.68m, but the Lithuanian giant grabbed it right back with 66.92m. Then, for good measure and with the competition won, Gudzius sent his disc out to a world-leading PB of 69.30m with his final throw.
Crouser makes history
He may not have managed a world lead or even a season’s best, but Olympic champion Ryan Crouser made history in the men’s shot.
Not only did he break the Polish all-comers’ record with his winning mark of 22.27m, but he also brought his career tally of 22-metre throws to 40. No other man in history has thrown beyond 22 metres on more occasions than Crouser. And what makes the feat all the more impressive is the fact that he only surpassed the mark for the first time in his career less than two years ago.
World champion Tom Walsh, who beat Crouser at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Oslo 24 hours prior, had to settle for second place on his occasion with a best of 21.63m. Poland’s Michal Haratyk was third with 21.58m.
World record-holder Renaud Lavillenie overcame two fouls at his opening height to win the pole vault. He got over 5.61m on his third attempt before going on to clear 5.81m first time. Pawel Wojciechowski exited the competition at the next height, having successfully cleared a best of 5.71m, and Lavillenie went on to get over 5.91m before bowing out with three unsuccessful – but close – tries at 6.01m.
World silver medallist Sergey Shubenkov was the only athlete who didn’t hear the recall gun when the 110m hurdles first got under way and he ended up running the entire length of the straight alone. After a few brief moments to recover, the race then got under way properly and Shubenkov showed no signs of fatigue as he powered to victory in 13.25.
Paul Dedewo won the men’s 400m from Luguelin Santos, 44.56 to 44.75. There was a shock in the women’s event, though, as Allyson Felix was caught in the final 20 metres by Justyna Swiety-Ersetic. Much to the joy of the home crowd, the Pole won by a stride in 51.11 to Felix’s 51.35.
Commonwealth champion Christabel Nettey got the better of four-time world champion Brittney Reese in the long jump. The Canadian jumped 6.88m in round two, which only came under threat in the final round as Reese jumped 6.87m, but it ultimately wasn’t enough for the US jumper to take the lead from Nettey.
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF