Anita Wlodarczyk in the hammer in Ostrava (© Organisers / Luděk Šipla / sport-pics.cz)
Anita Wlodarczyk needed just half an hour to break the meeting record at the Golden Spike in Ostrava when taking victory at the IAAF Hammer Throw Challenge meeting on Thursday (19).
Competing in her first competition of the year, the world record-holder opened her series with 71.55m. Asian record-holder Zheng Wang of China briefly moved into the lead with her 73.80m effort in round two, but Wlodarczyk regained pole position at the end of that round with a heave of 77.42m.
The 30-year-old Pole was just getting started, though. In the third round, she sent her hammer flying out to 78.54m to add almost half a metre to the meeting record that was set four years ago by Germany’s Betty Heidler.
Eight of the nine women in the competition produced their best efforts of the day in that same round. Poland’s Joanna Fiodorow threw 72.77m, Heidler threw 72.41m and Katerina Safrankova broke her own Czech record with 72.34m.
But Wlodarczyk was a class apart from her opponents. She rounded out her series with throws of 77.43m, 77.32m and 76.98m. Five of her six throws were more than three metres farther than the best of the rest of the field.
Her winning mark of 78.54m was easily her best ever season opener. It’s the eighth-best throw in history and Wlodarczyk’s fifth-best effort of her career. Of her four superior throws, two of them were world records while the other two were achieved when winning major titles.
“The atmosphere here at the meeting is great, because the crowd is so very close to us,” said Wlodarczyk, who will compete at the prestigious throws meeting in Halle this weekend. “I’m happy to win the trophy again but my mom has suggested that I should allocate a special room for all the trophies, because they are still growing.
“Last year I won here with 76 meters and then I set the world record. Today I threw beyond 78 meters, so it suggests I’m in even better shape this year.”
Nazarov challenges Fajdek
In the men’s contest, Wlodarczyk’s compatriot and fellow world champion Pawel Fajdek nearly saw his 14-month winning streak come to an end.
Fajdek’s last loss came in March 2015; since then, he had put together a string of 19 victories and was looking to achieve win No.20 in Ostrava.
He opened his account with a solid 78.71m, but in the next round world silver medallist Dilshod Nazarov threw 78.82m to take a narrow lead. Fajdek fouled his second-round attempt, threw 78.46m in the third round and recorded another foul in round four. With just two attempts remaining, he was still in second place.
Marcel Lomnicky was also closing in on Fajdek. The Slovak thrower produced a season’s best of 77.48m in the fifth round to consolidate his third-place position.
But Fajdek responded with the next throw of the competition, hurling a season’s best of 80.66m to move into the lead and improve on his own world-leading mark.
With his final throw of the competition, Nazarov managed a respectable 78.63m but it wasn’t enough to take the lead back off the Pole.
Fajdek’s winning effort was his 47th throw beyond 80 metres, having surpassed that mark now in 24 competitions. He also moves to the top of the IAAF Hammer Throw Challenge standings.
“I set another world lead, so I am very happy about it,” said Fajdek. “I didn’t expect it because I came here from full training and I didn’t feel so powerful today. I was a little angry because I didn’t throw well on my first two attempts, but that motivated me even more to set a world lead.
“My family is here and it is the second time they have seen me in a competition,” he added. “My daughter was awake when I threw my winning mark and that made me happy.”
The Golden Spike, part of the IAAF World Challenge, continues on Friday (20).
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF