This post is going to reflect on just ended 2014 season. Only this time I will do it a little differently. I want to talk about “old-fashion” stats and facts but also about my personal perception of this season. I hope you will enjoy reading about “behind the scenes” stories from the 2014 IAAF Hammer Throw Challenge circuit.
2014 season had its ups and downs, as every season does. I started it off in Athens, Georgia (where I was training at the time) with a solid opener 77,16m.
That mark felt good considering still heavy training, little rest and not the greatest feel for 7,26kg hammer. It certainly gave me a lot of hopes. I thought I will just take more rest and throw something big in California one week later, where I traveled for Mt SAC Relays. That is exactly what I did but unfortunately, I did not have a good technical day and ended up with “only” 76,77m. A little disappointing.
After I got back to University of Georgia, I had one month to get some training before my first IAAF Hammer Challenge meet in Puerto Rico. It was going to be my second time competing over there, and I knew they had terribly slippery ring a year before. My hopes were very high that they did something with it after some complaints a year before. However, after I and Kristian Pars arrived at venue we realized the circle is the same. Oh NO! My technique hates very slippery circles. I fought until the very last throw, which happened to be my best one and I finished second behind Pars with 77,48m (at the time SB). ((Hopefully they will change circles for next year 😉 ))
I moved back to Europe for the rest of my season. Another IAAF Hammer Throw Challenge for me in Szczecin, Poland. Luckily, I was able to throw 78,40m and finished second behind Pars again. This meet was very entertaining for me and it was battle mainly with Dilshod Nazarov and Pawel Fajdek until the end. After four attempts Pawel was sitting second with 78,15 and I was fourth with 77,46m. The battle started in round five and continued until the end! Dilshod Nazarov improved to 77,64m and moved me to fifth place. Not for long though. Right after his throw, I improved as well throwing 77,66m, just two centimeters more. It was even funnier because Pavel Krivitski was sitting third after five attempts with 77,69m. So all three of us within five centimeters. We laughed. Last attempts were going to be interesting. Dilshod threw first and improved to 78,08m. I threw right after him again and I improved to 78,40m, good enough to surpass him and also Fajdek’s 78,15m and I moved to second place behind Pars 79,35m. Krivitski and Fajdek did not improve. This was one of the coolest competitions during my 2014 season!
Ostrava Golden Spike was next and I finished fourth with 77,91m. This meet was one of very few this season when I thought I will break 80m line. During this meet I threw 77,77 – 77,90 – 77,91 and I also had some long fouls. I was feeling fantastic and too bad my technique was not good enough for longer throws. The ring is perfect in Ostrava and the weather was great too. Maybe next year 😉
A little absurd situation happened in Velenje, Slovenia. After six hours drive down to Slovenia a night before competition, my manager called me and told me that they changed the status of the meet. What was supposed to be one of IAAF Hammer Throw Challenge series competitions was something else now. They still held hammer throw but under different rules. Of course they ended up with smaller prize money, but the upset was mainly because the results did not count towards HT Challenge series standings. It was very surprising to me that local track star Primoz Kozmus found out about this “change” 40 minutes before the start of event in call room. Fortunately, all great hammer throwers threw and therefore, we could have another great evening in Velenje! I finished it off fourth with 77,39m.
I defended my National title throwing 76,49m in the middle of July. This was second meet of the year when I thought I can break 80m. Unfortunately, the circle was brand new and super slippery!! 76,49m was a first-round-safe effort and then I booked five fouls. Too bad because I really felt great that day.
I jumped on a plane and landed in Karlstad, Sweden – home of over the river hammer throwing competition. It was my second year in a row and it was very special again! Last year I threw MR of 78,69m and this year I managed to hit 78,35m – good enough to win this exhibition. However, the fun did not stop there. They created new set of rules to make it more fans appealing. They placed three old boats into the river and our goal was to try hit and sink them. We all had three attempts and each boat had different amount of points depending on their size and distance from the circle. Now this was very hard as you can probably imagine. It is hard to aim with four turns. Nobody was able to sink a boat but we had a blast doing it!
The next day there was another HT Challenge competition in Karlstad. Dilshod Nazarov was better and I had to settle for another second place with 77,93m.
August 2nd was the day when I broke my PR. Slovak athletes had the very last chance to qualify for European Champiosnhips at our home meet in Nove Zamky. The meet was also part of our Slovak Athletics League 2014. I went there because I wanted to help former European Champion (2010) and fellow Slovak hammer thrower Libor Charfreitag to qualify. Unfortunately, he was not able to throw 73,50m which would make the Euro Champs team for him. On the other hand, I was having a hell of a day! I finally improved my personal best to 79,16m! And it was only two weeks before the finals at Euro Championships. It seemed like a perfect timing.
European Championships were supposed to be the highlight of my season. And they truly were just that – the HIGHLIGHT! My sister Nicole qualified and we traveled together. She made her first senior Championships. Great. But then later she also made her first senior final. Awesome! But she did not stop there, she made TOP EIGHT finish in her first senior Championships! F*&^ing ridiculous! That’s what I call HIGHLIGHT!
I had quite successful qualification rounds throwing auto qualifying mark and finishing second with 77,06m behind Pawel Fajdek. Physically I was feeling great, and first time in my life I thought I could really fight for a medal at senior Championships. The big day came and I woke up and felt like I got hit by a truck. One of those days that you usually have plenty during winter training but you never wish to have them on a meet day. I really tried my best, squeezed 76,89m out of me and finished 7th. Competitors were much better than me but that result could never be enough for medal. Ever! A little disappointment, I’m not going to lie.
At the end of my season, I was having a lot of fun with it. I did not care much about my final result, all I wanted to do is have some fun. I went to Warsaw for Kamila Skolimowska Memorial 2014. This was one of the most entertaining competitions in my life. We were throwing inside a huge Polish national soccer stadium with 60 000 people capacity and it was full. The roof was closed so it might be considered indoor meet. We were also throwing from the indoor wooden circle. Usain Bolt was running 100m, Anita Wlodarczyk attempted to throw World Record and I witnessed Pawel Fajdek’s new PR and National Record of 83,48m!! Two huge Polish stars inside a huge closed and full stadium in home country of Poland. It was as loud as it can get! Unbelievable atmosphere and energy which I do not normally experience as a hammer thrower. It was cool.
Last IAAF Hammer Throw Challenge competition was held in Rieti, Italy on Sep 7th. I finished fifth throwing 76,39m. During this meet, Mostafa Elgamel threw 78,50m in his sixth attempt and moved me to final fifth place in HT Challenge standings (78,40m + 77,93m + 77,91m = score of 234,24). Until this throw I was still sitting in fourth place. Little unfortunate, but I must say that I did the same thing last year to Szymon Ziolkowski when I moved him to seventh place in 2013 final standings with my last HT Challenge meet. So I guess karma exists or Mostafa was just slightly better this year 😉
That’s the wrap-up of my 2014 hammer throw season. See you on tour next year! DAVAAAJ ! ! !