Olympic Men’s Hammer — Moving Out Of The Bronze Age

After a big collection of major 3rd-place medals, Wojciech Nowicki finally won a gold. (JEAN-PIERRE DURAND/PHOTO RUN)

THERE MUST HAVE BEEN something in the air as Wojciech Nowicki won a long-sought gold medal on the same evening Andre De Grasse did the same in the 200.

After 3rds in the ’15, ’17 & ’19 World Championships — as well as the ’16 Olympics — Nowicki tired of the view from the lowest step of the podium.

“I’m a bronze guy,” he said. “I’m really, really happy, especially that I did my best mark today. It’s very important for me, this competition, the Olympic Games.”

The 32-year-old Pole’s opening 266-4 (81.18) electrified the field and served notice that the game was on. Over 81m (265-9) for his first 5 throws in a row, Nowicki’s third-round PR of 270-9 (82.52) left his fellow competitors little room to move as he led from the first round on.

The quality of the field was remarkable, with depth not seen since Beijing ’08. “The standards have been so high this year,” said Norway’s surprise silver medalist, Eivind Henriksen, who at 30 has won his country’s hammer title 11 years in a row.

“I knew coming in that I would have to throw over 80m [262-5] to take a medal, and there were four guys over 80m. In recent years at major championships there were medals at 78m [255-11].”

Henriksen stood 2nd after the first round but didn’t last there for long. Myhaylo Kokhan, Ukraine’s 20-year-old prodigy, threw 263-9 (80.39) in the second and seemed destined for the podium.

Nowicki’s favored teammate, 4-time world champion Paweł Fajdek, displayed his best form in the fifth stanza when he sailed one out to 267-6 (81.53). He stood in silver briefly until Henriksen unleashed his third NR of the day, just 5cm farther. Kokhan found himself quickly bumped from 2nd to 4th.

“I feel very good,” said Nowicki, the newly-crowned hammer king. ”It was the best competition of my whole career and I am very happy. I did my personal best and it was a good day.”

Fajdek was thrilled to stand on an Olympic podium at last. With 3 fouls in ’12 qualifying and not advancing in Rio, the Olympic Games had become his Achilles heel.

“The hardest part of my life was to qualify to the final of the Olympics,” he admitted. “Two days ago I made it and I was sure that I could take a medal, but I was extremely tired of thinking of this competition for the last 5 years.”

He continued, “The media puts pressure on me. They’re always trying to get the answer, ‘What will be next for you? What will you do at Tokyo? How can you make us sure that you will take a medal?’

“And really,” he said, “that bronze medal is more than gold for me.”

Formcharted No. 9, Henriksen came into the Games with a PR of 256-8 (78.25). He then threw an NR 258-6 (78.79) in qualifying and stood a surprise 3rd when that round was complete.

But nothing indicated just how much more was there: 3 more NRs. His fifth-round 267-6 (81.58) was 10-11 (3.33) farther than his premeet best.

Winning silver, he said, “feels amazing. I am still shocked about the result and the medal. I was really close to the final in the London Olympics at a young age. Then a lot of injuries happened to my knee. I’ve been dreaming about this for years and I’m allowed to show a few tears when a dream comes true.”

Rudy Winkler, second-rated on our formchart coming in, and U.S. teammate Daniel Haugh never got on track and finished 7th and 11th at 252-11 (77.08) and 250-1 (76.22). Still, it marked the first time Team USA had 2 finalists since ’64 and Winkler’s 7th was the highest finish since Lance Deal’s ’96 silver.

With 2 golds and 1-3 finishes in both the men’s and women’s hammer competitions, Fajdek understated, “We are good at this discipline. We share the confidence in the team. And you see, it is 4 medals for Poland.”


MEN’S HAMMER RESULTS

(August 04) (temperature 84–82F/29–28C; humidity 73–72%)

1. Wojciech Nowicki (Pol) 270-9 (82.52) PR

(266-4, 268-1, 270-9, 267-0, 269-3, f) (81.18, 81.72, 82.52, 81.39, 82.06, f);

2. Eivind Henriksen (Nor) 267-8 (81.58) NR

(259-9 NR, 259-4, 263-6 NR, 255-2, 267-8 NR, 262-6) (79.18, 79.06, 80.31, 77.78, 81.58, 80.02);

3. Paweł Fajdek (Pol) 267-6 (81.53)

(254-6, 257-10, 258-7, 256-0, 267-6, 261-4) (77.58, 78.58, 78.83, 78.04, 81.53, 79.66);

4. Myhaylo Kokhan (Ukr) 263-9 (80.39)

(255-7, 263-9, f, 261-9, 258-6, 254-4) (77.91, 80.39, f, 79.79, 78.81, 77.52);

5. Quentin Bigot (Fra) 260-5 (79.39)

(255-8, 260-5, 256-11, 258-8, f, 248-7) (77.93, 79.39, 78.30, 78.84, f, 75.78);

6. Nick Miller (GB) 256-4 (78.15)

(255-6, f, 254-1, 254-9, f, 256-4) (77.88, f, 77.46, 77.64, f, 78.15);

7. Rudy Winkler (US) 252-11 (77.08)

(252-11, f, 249-2, f, 247-2, f) (77.08, f, 75.95, f, 75.34, f);

8. Valeriy Pronkin (Rus) 251-8 (76.72)

(251-8, f, f, f, 249-3, 245-2) (76.72, f, f, f, 75.97, 74.73);

9. Eşref Apak (Tur) 251-8 (76.71)

(250-1, 251-8, 243-8) (76.22, 76.71, 74.28);

10. Javier Cienfuegos (Spa) 250-4 (76.30)

(244-10, f, 250-4) (74.62, f, 76.30);

11. Daniel Haugh (US) 250-1 (76.22)

(f, 250-1, f) (f, 76.22, f);

12. Serghei Marghiev (Mol) 246-10 (75.24)

(240-5, 246-10, 245-10) (73.28, 75.24, 74.95).

first 3 rounds
Kokhan 77.91* 80.39¶ f
Miller 77.88 f 77.46
Haugh f 76.22¶ f
Cienfuegos 74.62 f 76.30¶
Pronkin 76.72¶ f f
Winkler 77.08¶ f 75.95
Nowicki 81.18* 81.72 82.52¶
Bigot 77.93 79.39¶ 78.30
Henriksen 79.18 79.06 80.31
Marghiev 73.28 75.24¶ 74.95
Fajdek 77.58 78.58 78.83
Apak 76.22 76.71¶ 74.28
rounds 4–5
Pronkin f 75.97
Winkler f 75.34
Miller 77.64 f
Fajdek 78.04 81.53¶
Bigot 78.84 f
Henriksen 77.78 81.58¶
Kokhan 79.79 78.81
Nowicki 81.39 82.06
final round
Pronkin 74.73
Winkler f
Miller 78.15¶
Bigot 75.78
Kokhan 77.52
Fajdek 79.66
Henriksen 80.02
Nowicki f

QUALIFYING (August 02; auto-qualifier 254-3/77.50)

Qualifiers: Nowicki 261-9 (79.78), Winkler 258-6 (78.81), Henriksen 258-6 (78.79) NR, Bigot 258-3 (78.73), Kokhan 257-1 (78.36), Miller 252-4 (76.93), Cienfuegos 252-4 (76.91), Apak 251-10 (76.76), Fajdek 250-10 (76.46), Marghiev 249-2 (75.94), Pronkin 248-8 (75.80), Haugh 248-5 (75.73);

Non-qualifiers: Gabriel Enrique Kehr (Chl) 248-0 (75.60), Bence Halász (Hun) 247-4 (75.39), Diego Del Real (Mex) 246-7 (75.17), Alex Young (US) 246-4 (75.09), Humberto Mansilla (Chl) 245-3 (74.76), Ivan Tikhon (Blr) 244-8 (74.57), Yury Vasilchanka (Blr) 242-9 (74.00), Hlib Piskunov (Ukr) 242-3 (73.84), Tristan Schwandke (Ger) 242-0 (73.77), Mihaíl Anastasákis (Gre) 241-2 (73.52), Mostafa Hicham Al-Gamal (Egy) 238-8 (72.76), Marcel Lomnický (Svk) 237-11 (72.52), Hrístos Frantzeskákis (Gre) 236-10 (72.19), Ashraf Amjad Al-Saifi (Qat) 235-8 (71.84), Gleb Dudarev (Blr) 234-11 (71.60), Taylor Campbell (GB) 234-1 (71.34), Sukhrob Khodyayev (Uzb) 233-9 (71.26), Mergen Mammedov (Tkm) 221-6 (67.53), Özkan Baltacı (Tur) 208-9 (63.63). ◻︎

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