Previews19 Jun 2024

Kaczmarek and Nowicki among home stars in Bydgoszcz


Natalia Kaczmarek in Continental Tour Gold action (© Ostrava Golden Spike)

Many of Poland’s best will take on some of the world’s leading athletes when the World Athletics Continental Tour Gold continues with the Irena Szewinska Memorial in Bydgoszcz on Thursday (20).

It is fitting that Natalia Kaczmarek is among the headliners of the meeting, which is named in tribute to Polish sprint great Szewinska who set a world record of 49.29 when winning her Olympic 400m title in Montreal in 1976. That legendary mark remained the Polish record until last week, when Kaczmarek improved it to 48.98 to win the European title in Rome.

Fresh from that performance at the Stadio Olimpico, world silver medallist Kaczmarek will be looking to put on another show for home fans at the Zdzislaw Krzyszkowiak Stadium. She has finished in the top two in each of her 400m races so far this season and in Bydgoszcz her competition includes her compatriots Justyna Swiety-Ersetic and Iga Baumgart-Witan, Romania’s Andrea Miklos and Great Britain’s Ama Pipi.

The men’s hammer gets the field action under way on Thursday and all three medallists from the recent European Championships will clash again. Home star Wojciech Nowicki, Hungary’s Bence Halasz and Ukraine’s Mykhaylo Kokhan renew their rivalry as part of a field that also features another Polish great – five-time world champion Pawel Fajdek – and Dutch record-holder Denzel Comenentia.

When it comes to performances so far this season, Olympic champion Nowicki, Olympic fourth-place finisher Kokhan and world bronze medallist Halasz are separated by less than half a metre. Nowicki, also a two-time world silver medallist, threw 80.95m to win his third consecutive European title in Rome, while Kokhan threw 80.76m in Nairobi and Halasz 80.49m in Rome. Nowicki was the 2022 winner in Bydgoszcz, while he finished runner-up last year.

In the men’s shot put, Italy’s world silver medallist Leonardo Fabbri faces Jamaica’s Rajindra Campbell, Czechia’s Tomas Stanek and Great Britain’s Scott Lincoln, plus Poland’s Michal Haratyk and Konrad Bukowiecki.

Fabbri sits second on this season’s top list with the national record of 22.95m he set in Savona last month, while Campbell has also surpassed 22 metres so far in 2024.

The men’s pole vault will see home favourite Piotr Lisek, the multiple world medallist, go up against Philippines' world silver medallist Ernest John Obiena and world indoor bronze medallist Emmanouil Karalis of Greece. Obiena cleared 5.93m indoors in February and has an outdoor best this season of 5.80m set when winning at the Continental Tour Gold meeting in Los Angeles, while Karalis soared 5.87m to secure his silver medal at the European Championships a week ago. He followed that with a win in Athens four days later with a clearance of 5.82m.

Ethiopia’s Freweyni Hailu has happy memories of racing in Poland as she set her 1500m PB of 3:55.28 indoors in Torun in February. That came a month before she won the world indoor title in Glasgow and now she continues her outdoor campaign in Bydgoszcz. 

She will line up alongside the Australian trio of Linden Hall, Abbey Caldwell and Sarah Billings, plus Great Britain’s Revee Walcott-Nolan.

Sweden’s Andreas Kramer claimed a narrow 800m victory at the Continental Tour Gold meeting in Turku on Tuesday and he’ll want to continue his winning ways as he takes on a field featuring Algeria’s Mohamed Ali Gouaned, Dutch champion Ryan Clarke and Poland’s Mateusz Borkowski. In the men’s 1500m, Australia’s Cameron Myers races Italy’s Federico Riva and Kenya’s Daniel Munguti.

New Zealand’s Zoe Hobbs heads the women’s 100m field following Continental Tour Gold meeting wins in Melbourne and Tokyo so far this season.

Polish heptathlete Adrianna Sulek-Schubert makes her return to competition following the birth of her son in February and she contests the 100m hurdles, up against Sarah Lavin, Viktoria Forster and Crystal Morrison. In the men’s 110m hurdles, Poland’s Damian Czykier and Jakub Szymanski race Roger Iribarne, Milan Trajkovic and Eduardo Rodrigues.

The 400m hurdles fields feature Brazil’s Matheus Lima, Ireland’s Thomas Barr, Czechia’s Nikoleta Jichova, Australia’s Sarah Carli and South Africa’s Zeney Geldenhuys.