Hungary's Bence Halasz during the men's hammer throw final at the IAAF World U20 Championships Bydgoszcz 2016 (© Getty Images)
Hungary’s Bence Halasz had been widely expected to deliver a first world U20 hammer throw title for his nation in Bydgoszcz, and on a mild evening in the Polish city on Friday (22), he delivered in fine style.
The 18-year-old had dominated the event throughout the year, holding the six longest throws in the world by an U20 athlete. However, when he took to the throwing circle for his first effort, he briefly seemed a shadow of his former self. His first effort was a modest 73.12m, which left him languishing in fourth position.
The lead had been taken in commanding fashion by Ukraine’s Hlib Piskunov, who unleashed a throw of 78.77m in the opening round, before adding to his advantage in the second round with 79.58m, a lifetime best.
That heaped the pressure on Halasz, who at that stage was struggling to find the rhythm that had carried him to the European junior title last year. However, he launched a throw of 78.74m in the second round, which moved him up to second.
Piskunov fouled his third attempt, a missed opportunity he was left to rue as Halasz entered the circle and produced a whopping throw of 80.93m.
Given that no one in the field had ever produced a throw of that length, it was clear there and then that Hungary had just claimed its first men’s hammer throw title. Halasz drew gasps from the crowd on his fourth and final attempt, hurling the sphere well past the 80-metre line – somewhere around the 82-metre region – but the throw was deemed a foul.
Piskunov could muster no more in the final round, his best of 79.58m securing him silver.
The bronze medal went to Finland’s Aleksi Jaakola, whose second-round effort of 77.88m was enough to hold off Hungary’s Daniel Raba, who had a best of 76.71m in fourth. Jaakola had been expected to contend for the title, having thrown a Finnish U20 record of 80.54m this year, but he could not reproduce his best when it mattered most.
Spain’s Alberto Gonzalez broke new ground in fifth place, his first-round effort of 75.52m a lifetime best, while Egypt’s Ahmed Tarik Ismail had to make do with sixth after a best throw of 74.42m.
Cathal Dennehy for the IAAF