Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce in action in Silesia (© Pawel Skraba / organisers)
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce continued her fine late-season form with a comfortable 10.81-second 100m victory (0.4m/s) at the Kamila Skolimowska Memorial in Silesia, Poland, on Sunday (5), a World Athletics Continental Tour Gold meeting. It was a Polish all-comers’ record, breaking the 10.93 mark set by Ewa Kasprzyk in 1986.
“I took some time after Lausanne to get back into things and I’m looking forward to the next one because I definitely think, technically, I was very good in that race,” said Fraser-Pryce, who clocked 10.60 in the Swiss Diamond League meeting 10 days ago. “I was glad I was able to get the break. I needed it to regroup and come again. I’m back in the groove now and hoping the next two races (Zurich on 9 September and Bellinzona on 14 September) will be good.”
Asked if she thinks she can join her compatriot Elaine Thompson-Herah and go below 10.60 this season, Fraser-Pryce said: “That’s what I’m working towards. Let’s see if I get there.”
The two-time Olympic 100m champion crossed the line well ahead of Switzerland’s Mujinga Kambundji (11.08) and Britain’s Daryll Neita (11.15).
With 32,000 fans turning out to see their cast of Polish Olympic heroes, there was a raucous atmosphere at Stadion Slaski and one of the biggest cheers was reserved for Tokyo silver medallist Maria Andrejczyk, the javelin star shooting into the lead in the fifth round with her throw of 61.77m, a meeting record which gave her victory over USA’s Maggie Malone (61.46m) and Australia’s Kelsey-Lee Barber (60.61m).
“It was overwhelming, I’m so happy I could finally compete in front of the home crowd,” said Andrejczyk. “The performance was difficult, my shoulder is in very bad condition and I have some kind of hole in the muscle, but I have one more competition and then holidays. I know I need to take time to have a rest because I’m really tired mentally.”
Andrejczyk made headlines around the world after Tokyo for her decision to auction off her Olympic medal to raise money for a Polish toddler’s heart surgery, with Polish convenience store Zabka winning the auction and returning the medal to Andrejczyk. “It’s been crazy,” she said of the past few weeks. “But I’m happy how everything turned out.”
Pawel Fajdek also delighted the crowd with victory in the men’s hammer, the four-time world champion launching a best of 79.60m which left him well ahead of Polish compatriot Wojciech Nowicki, the Olympic champion, who threw 77.45m.
Nastassia Maslava of Belarus edged a tight contest in the women’s hammer, her second-round effort of 69.88m denying Poland’s Malwina Kopron who had a best of 69.75m. Third place went to Joanna Fiodorow, who threw 68.56m to bring the curtain down on her career. The 2019 world silver medallist shed tears both before and after her final effort.
“I finished something special in my life – it’s about 17 years I’ve been doing hammer throw,” she said. “It’s great to be here with all the public who came to give us congrats. It’s the best place to end it at the Kamila Skolimowska Memorial – she’s the best person I met in my life. I’ll miss these moments when I’m standing before my throws and thinking what I can do better, but it’s time.”
Johannes Vetter was a dominant winner of the men’s javelin, the German returning to the venue where he launched the two best throws of his career. The 28-year-old didn’t approach his 97.76-metre best today, but his second-round effort of 89.60m was more than good enough, with Grenada’s Anderson Peters second with 83.61m.
Italy’s Elena Vallortigara took the win in the women’s high jump via her first-time clearance of 1.96m, her best of the day, with Ukraine’s Iryna Herashchenko second with 1.94m and Poland’s Kamila Licwinko third with 1.91m. It was the last competition of Licwinko’s career, the 2014 world indoor champion and 2017 world bronze medallist visibly emotional as she bid farewell.
“I’m really happy and blessed, I’m speechless,” she said. “I never imagined I could finish my career like this with so many spectators. It’s hard to say goodbye but I know this is the right moment and I’m happy and grateful for 22 years of my career.”
As for what comes next?
“I don’t know,” she said. “Athletics was all my life so maybe I’ll stay here and help young people but I have one non-sport dream: to have my own bakery, and maybe now is the time.”
Another Polish great closing their career was Piotr Malachowski, the 2015 world discus champion and two-time Olympic silver medallist, who bowed out in front of an appreciative home crowd, his young son Henio stepping into the circle for a few throws himself during the competition. Malachowski was given the honour of having the final throw of the competition and he made it a good one, unleashing his best effort of the day with 62.29m. That left him in fourth place, with Slovenia’s Kristjan Ceh taking the win with 66.65m.
Gianmarco Tamberi of Italy continued his fine season with a win in the men’s high jump, the Olympic champion clearing 2.30m on his third attempt to beat Ilya Ivanyuk (2.27m).
Ryan Crouser was below his best in the men’s shot put but such is the class of the US athlete, it was still more than enough to take victory, his 22.39m leaving him with room to spare over fellow Olympic medallists Joe Kovacs (22.00m) and Tom Walsh (21.68m).
Chris Nilsen claimed victory in the men’s pole vault via his second-time clearance at 5.86m, the only vaulter to go over that height, while his US compatriot KC Lightfoot and Ernest Obiena of Philippines shared second with both clearing 5.80m.
Portugal’s Auriol Dongmo edged a close contest in the women’s shot put, her best of 19.32m giving her the win by one centimetre ahead of USA’s Maggie Ewen. Ukraine’s Viktoriya Tkachuk won a thrilling race in the women’s 400m hurdles, beating USA’s Nnenya Hailey 54.18 to 54.21, with Ukraine’s Anna Ryzhykova third in 54.25.
Brazil’s Alison Dos Santos backed up his win in Brussels on Friday with victory less than 48 hours later, setting a meeting record of 48.50 to beat Turkey’s Yasmani Copello (48.80) and Jamaica’s Jaheel Hyde (48.89).
Olympic 200m champion Andre De Grasse remained composed after a shaky start to come through and take victory over the same distance in 20.21 (0.2m/s) ahead of fellow Canadian Jerome Blake (20.32).
“It was so loud I didn’t really hear the gun,” he said. “But it’s okay, I came to get the win and it’s my first time in Poland and it was great. This was a warm-up for the Diamond League final and I hope to have a good competition next week.”
Olympic gold medallist Hansle Parchment showed the composure of a champion in the men’s 110m hurdles, the Jamaican trailing USA’s Devon Allen for most of the race before coming through over the final barrier to take victory in 13.26 (0.1m/s) to Allen’s 13.37.
Michael Cherry continued his fine form with a win over 400m, clocking 44.94 easing down ahead of fellow US athlete Vernon Norwood (45.12). Nigeria’s Tobi Amusan justified her favourite’s tag in the women’s 100m hurdles, sprinting to victory in 12.64 (0.1m/s) ahead of Jamaica’s Megan Tapper (12.75) and USA’s Christina Clemons (12.92).
There was a Polish 1-2 in the women’s 400m as Natalia Kaczmarek set a PB of 50.70 to beat Anna Kielbasinska (51.19), with Jamaica’s Candice McLeod third in 51.88.
Kenya’s Wycliffe Kinyamal showed impressive strength in the home straight to take the men’s 800m in a meeting record of 1:44.63, with Poland’s Kacper Lewalski second in a PB of 1:44.84 and Britain’s Daniel Rowden third in 1:44.89.
Ethiopia’s Tadese Worku underlined his star potential with victory in the men’s 3000m, the recent world U20 gold medallist taking command midway through and fending off the late challenge of Olympic steeplechase champion Soufiane El Bakkali of Morocco, Worku winning in a meeting record of 7:36.47 to El Bakkali’s 7:37.47.
Britain’s Jemma Reekie edged a close battle in the women’s 1000m, her speed and strength carrying her to victory in a meeting record of 2:35.47 ahead of Ethiopia’s Hirut Mengesha (2:35.74).
Cathal Dennehy for World Athletics