By Ian Chadband
LONDON (Reuters) – Pawel Fajdek, the colorful hammer champion from Poland, became the first man to win three successive world championship titles with a dominant triumph on Friday.
The bespectacled, tattooed 28-year-old, whose world championship triumphs have gone hand in hand with Olympic calamities, completed a hammer double for Poland after Anita Wlodarczyk’s equally conclusive triumph in the women’s event.
The silver went to Russian Valeriy Pronkin, competing under the neutral flag after being given permission to take part by the IAAF only last month, as he produced a final-round throw to consign Fajdek’s Polish rival Wojciech Nowicki to the bronze.
It was a typically commanding victory for one of the biggest favorites of the entire championships as the bearded Fajdek produced easily the three biggest throws of the night, headed by one of 79.81 meters.
On winning, the 120kg giant threw himself on to the hammer circle and lay on his back, arms and legs outstretched in delight.
“I’ve waited for this competition at this stadium for five years,” he said, reflecting on how miserable he had been in the 2012 Olympics when he failed to reach the final.
“So it was very important for me to get this revenge for the Olympics in here. Three-times world champion, I made history! What more could I expect?”
Inexplicably, Fajdek had not just failed to qualify for the London Olympic final but also last year in Rio when he was an even more dominant favorite.
“I was ready to throw the Polish record in Rio but I do not know what was going wrong. I have been still in shape, well prepared and I showed what I should have shown even before,” he said.
After producing the eight best throws of the year, he was not about to let yet another gold pass him by.
After a no-throw and a disappointing second effort, he unleashed successive efforts of 79.73m, 79.81m and 79.40m that demolished the field.
Nowicki looked set to make it a Polish one-two with his third-round effort of 78.03, before Pronkin surpassed that mark by 13 centimeters at the last time of asking.
For Fajdek, the victory reestablished his dominance of the event under his female coach Jolanta Kumor. Famously, one of his throws during a practice session once ended up hitting his previous 80-year-old coach Czeslaw Cybulski and breaking his leg.
This year, after 12 consecutive wins, he was beaten at the Polish championships by Nowicki but his compatriot once again, just as in Beijing and Rio, had to settle for the bronze.
The team of Russian authorized neutral athletes had won just one medal at the championships, a silver for the 110 meters hurdler Sergey Shubenkov, before Pronkin landed another silver.
“Before my fifth attempt I asked God, my coach, my girlfriend and all the people who supported me to help me to get this medal,” said the 23-year-old Pronkin, who then proceeded to launch his best two throws.
(Editing by Ed Osmond)