Anita Wlodarczyk with her World record numbers in Bydgoszcz (© Piotr Sumara)
With world-class fields assembled in many events and good weather conditions, this year’s edition of the Enea Cup meet in Bydgoszcz on Sunday (6) was always expected to generate some excitement. One performance, however, gave the audience more than their money’s worth.
World champion Anita Wlodarczyk improved her own world record* in the hammer by 34 centimetres, reaching out to 78.30m. The performance came in the third round of the competition after a near-record performance of 77.67m in the second round.
While the world record* overshadowed the rest of the evening’s performances, there was plenty of interesting action elsewhere at the meet, including Christian Cantwell’s shot put of 21.50m, Anna Rogowska’s 4.71m clearance in the pole vault and Piotr Malachowski’s 67.56m in the discus.
This time, a more subdued celebration for Wlodarczyk
Wlodarczyk had a relatively sluggish start to the season, with two losses in Halle and Daegu, but with her recent world-leading 75.74m in Ostrava, it was clear her form was improving. Still, few of the crowd in Bydgoszcz could have expected what they were about to witness.
The home favourite started the contest with a throw of 74.84m, good enough for a clear lead. Not satisfied with that performance, she followed up with a throw close to her world record in the second round. The official measurement was announced as 77.67m, a mere 29cm down on her mark from Berlin last year.
It was in the third round that everything clicked for Wlodarczyk. In her customary, seemingly effortless style, she sent the hammer flying even farther. After an anxious moment of waiting, she started celebrating as soon as the figures came up on the board – 78.30m.
Remembering the injury she suffered while celebrating her previous world record last year, which put an early end to her season, Wlodarczyk was more careful this time. “I wanted to start hopping around, but then I thought to myself ‘don’t jump’,” she said after the competition.
Despite this, Wlodarczyk could be seen applying ice to her right calf after the record throw. The niggle put an end to her competition. She sat out the remaining three rounds as a precaution against suffering a more serious injury.
After the competition, the world record-holder said she was hoping for a top performance in Bydgoszcz. “This is one of my favourite venues to compete in. The circle is great.” She also said that the 80-metre barrier is her next aim. “I am hoping it will happen this year,” she said.
Her coach Krzysztof Kaliszewski confirmed that he too had been expecting a top performance, as his charge recently broke her training bests with 3kg and 6kg implements.
But what makes Wlodarczyk’s performance even more remarkable is the fact that she is coming back from the serious injury she suffered last year. “Our preparations for this season have been seriously affected by this,” said Kaliszewski. “She is now two months behind where she was at this time last year.”
Wlodarczyk’s next competition will be at the Kusocinski Memorial on Tuesday (8 June). However, she dismissed expectations of another record there, saying the circle in Warsaw is less conducive to achieving top performances.
Behind Wlodarczyk, world silver medallist Betty Heidler took second with a best of 74.10m. All six of her throws went beyond 72.50m. Her German compatriot Kathrin Klaas and former world record-holder Tatyana Lysenko had a close battle for third place. In the end, Klaas took that position with 71.91m, and Lysenko finished fourth with 71.62m.
Cantwell prevails over Armstrong and Majewski
The men’s shot put competition at the Enea Cup had possibly the best field of all events at the meeting, and the competition lived up to expectations. To start it all off, Canada’s Dylan Armstrong confirmed his recent streak of great performances with 21.19m in the first round. This result stayed at the top of the board until the third round when Armstrong himself improved to 21.25m.
At this point, the Canadian had a clear lead over his competition, but things really heated up from then on. In the fourth round, world champion Christian Cantwell and Olympic champion Tomasz Majewski inched closer to the lead with 21.18m and 20.91m, respectively. Both improved again on their next throw. Cantwell sent the metal ball to 21.50m to take the lead, while the Pole set a season’s best with 21.22m. This settled the competition as none of the top three improved in their final attempts.
In the men’s hammer, the performances were of a slightly lower standard, but the competition was a close one, with the lead changing hands multiple times. In the end, it was Sergei Litvinov Jr of Germany who came through to take the win with 78.76m in the fifth round, ahead of Olympic silver medallist Krisztian Pars’ 77.96m and Dilshod Nazarov’s 77.71m.
The discus was not as close. With the late withdrawal of world champion Robert Harting, suffering from food poisoning, Piotr Malachowski went through the competition unchallenged. Despite unfavourable wind conditions, the Pole sent the discus to 67.56m, with three more throws well beyond 65 metres.
Polish wins in both the pole vaults
Anna Rogowska was a similarly comfortable winner in the women’s pole vault. After clearing 4.40m and 4.60m, the world champion had the bar set at 4.71m and went clear on her first attempt, despite touching the bar. Three attempts at a would-be national record of 4.84m proved unsuccessful, although the second one gave hope that such heights may be achievable for Rogowska before long.
The men’s vault was more competitive, but likewise ended with a Polish victory. Przemyslaw Czerwinski prevailed over a good field thanks to his clearance at 5.65m. Tobias Scherbarth of Germany was the runner-up with 5.60m.
Tatyana Kotova was the winner of a close contest in the women’s long jump, as none of the others could quite match her 6.66m from the first round. World leader Olga Kucherenko, straight off her win at the Diamond League in Oslo, could only manage fourth place this time with her one valid jump of 6.57m.
First win of the season for Felicien
One of the most eagerly anticipated events on the track was the women’s 100m hurdles. While the headwind of -1.8m/s slowed down the runners, the race was nonetheless an exciting one. Former world champion Perdita Felicien narrowly prevailed in the end with her 12.99, beating Delloreen Ennis by just 0.03 and Priscilla Lopes-Schliep by 0.06.
In the men’s 110m hurdles, Ty Atkins won in another close race. The US sprint hurdler finished in 13.47, with his compatriot Ryan Wilson 0.02 behind. Poland’s Artur Noga was third with 13.56 with a strong charge in the second half of the race following a poor start.
Both of the one-lap hurdle races proved competitive as well. In the women’s event, Angela Morosanu led for most of the distance. When Anna Jesien challenged her in the final straight, another Polish victory looked possible, but in the end it was the Briton Eilidh Child who came from behind to just take it in 55.17. Morosanu held on for second place with 55.25, with Jesien just 0.01 behind.
The men’s race also ended with a come-from-behind victory. David Greene set a strong pace, but started to struggle somewhat in the final straight, allowing LJ van Zyl to pass him. The South African took the race in 48.87 and the Briton finished in 48.96, both men setting season’s bests.
Cydonie Mothersill took the women’s 200m win in 22.84, just ahead of the fast-finishing Jamaican Rosemarie Whyte (22.87).
In the longest race of the night, the 3000m steeplechase, there was an expected 1-2-3 for Kenyan runners, led by Elijah Chelimo with 8:16.56. The home crowd also had something to cheer about, though, as Tomasz Szymkowiak finished a creditable fourth with a personal best of 8:21.12.
Pawel Jackowski for the IAAF
* pending the usual ratification procedures