Wojciech Nowicki, winner of the hammer in Bydgoszcz (© Marta Gorczynska)
Poland’s Anita Wlodarczyk and Wojciech Nowicki delighted the home crowd at the Irena Szewinska Memorial as the Olympic hammer champions won at the World Athletics Continental Tour Gold meeting in Bydgoszcz on Friday (3).
In seemingly perfect conditions, Wlodarczyk’s third-round throw of 73.98m put her in the lead in the women’s competition. She consolidated with 74.19m in the fourth round and it was enough to see off Hanna Skydan of Azerbaijan, making an impressive season debut with 73.19m. Wlodarczyk’s Olympic bronze medal-winning teammate Malwina Kopron had to settle for third again with a final-round effort of 72.44m.
In the men’s event, Nowicki’s fourth-round throw of 80.28m was enough to take the win. His international teammate, Olympic bronze medallist and four-time world champion Pawel Fajdek, sprung to life in the fifth round with a season’s best of 80.19m to place second.
World bronze medallist Bence Halasz of Hungary was third after consistent series, the best being a season’s best of 78.81m in the fifth round.
Olympic bronze medallist Tomas Walsh of New Zealand got one over long-time rival Olympic silver medallist and two-time world champion Joe Kovacs of USA with a fourth-round best of 21.80m to win the men’s shot.
Kovacs’ best effort came in the final round, but was just four centimetres short. It brings their career head-to-head to 26-25 in Walsh’s favour. World indoor champion Darlan Romani placed third with 21.45m coming in the third round.
“It was one of those competitions where everyone had to work to figure things out a little bit,” said Walsh.
“I’m happy with how I managed to figure it out, get some aggression and throw some balls well. I’m really happy to do what it took to win and sometimes, that’s what it is about. Today I felt there were four of us in the fight. So, to figure out a way to make that ball go far enough to win is a nice feeling too.”
It was on the track where the records flowed, with five meeting records and one national record.
The 400m hurdles races provided two of the evening highlights. Ukraine’s Olympic finalist Viktoriya Tkachuk looked to have the women’s race wrapped up in the home straight. But as she tired off the final hurdle, Colombia’s Melissa Gonzales crept up on her shoulder and dipped at the line to win by 0.01 in a national record of 54.80.
In the men’s event, Khallifah Rosser of USA was a dominant winner, striding away to win in 48.23 and smashing LJ Van Zyl’s 12-year-old meeting record by 0.48. In contrast to the finish in the women’s race, Rosser won by almost a full second as South Africa’s Sokwakhana Zazini was second in 49.17.
There were meeting records in both 100m finals. In the men’s race, USA’s Elijah Hall-Thompson was an impressive victor in 10.02 (-0.3m/s), a personal best and a 0.14 second improvement on the meeting record. Britain’s Jeremiah Azu was second in 10.18.
In the women’s race, Olympic and world finalist Michelle-Lee Ahye of Trinidad and Tobago repeated last year’s victory in Bydgoszcz, setting a meeting record of 11.17 (0.1m/s) to win comfortably from Brazil’s Vitoria Rosa (11.32).
There were an incredible seven personal best performances in the men’s 1500m. Germany’s Mohamed Mohumed pulled clear of Adisu Girma in the home straight, the Ethiopian having led at the bell.
Mohumed’s winning time of 3:35.69 is nearly three seconds better than his best from last year and broke the meeting record by nearly eight seconds. Girma’s 3:35.81 was also a personal best and with 3:35.92, third-placed Matt Stonier of Great Britain was also celebrating a lifetime best.
The men’s 800m was another race to cherish for several athletes, with four personal bests and one season’s best.
Sweden’s Andreas Kramer made a bold run from 300 metres to go, but as he flagged in the closing 50 metres, he was caught by Netherland’s long striding Tony Van Diepen who edged past to win in a personal best of 1:44.31. Kramer was also caught by Tshepo Tshite of South Africa, though both were awarded a finishing time of 1:44.59. It was a personal best for Tshite and a season’s best for Kramer.
Adelle Tracy accelerated clear in the last 100 metres to win the women’s 800m in 2:01.57 from Poland’s Anna Wielgosz and Britain’s Ellie Baker, who clocked 2:01.71 and 2:01.91 respectively.
There was a US double in the sprint hurdles. In the women’s 100m hurdles, Tia Jones snagged another meeting record with 12.79 (0.2m/s), just hanging on from a fast-finishing Tobi Amusan of Nigeria, 0.01 adrift. In the men’s 110m hurdles, meanwhile, Jamal Britt held off local hero Damian Czykier by 0.01, winning in 13.35 (-0.9m/s).
There was another close finish in the women’s 400m as Modesta Morauskaite of Lithuania held off Britain’s Nicole Yeargin by 0.04 to win in 51.34.
Always a popular event in front of an appreciative Polish crowd, the men’s pole vault had a world-class field, but didn’t quite catch fire. Making his first outing in Europe this year, Olympic silver medallist Chris Nilsen repeated his win from last year, settling for 5.80m, after failing three times at 5.90m.
Jacob Wooten, Valetine Lavillenie and crowd-pleasing Piotr Lisek all cleared 5.70m, but they finished in that order behind Nilsen on countback. An all-Polish men’s high jump was won by Norbert Kobielski in 2.24m.
Chris Broadbent for World Athletics