Wlodarczyk in a class of her own

Wlodarczyk in a class of her own
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Anita Wlodarczyk could not dream of a better year having broke the hammer throw world record with 81.01m, followed by gold at the IAAF World Championships in Bejing.

The shortlist for the European female Athlete of the Year sees defending champion Dafne Schippers up against Great Britain’s heptathlete Jessica Ennis-Hill and a woman who took her event into a new era in 2015 – Polish hammer thrower Anita Wlodarczyk.

What a summer it has been for Wlodarczyk, the second of the contenders that we profile today.

The Golden Tracks awards in Lausanne on Saturday will honour the European male and female Athletes of the Year and Rising Stars.

They will be presented at a televised gala evening and will be streamed live via www.european-athletics.org starting at 20:30 local time.

The measure of any great athlete is their ability to deliver time and again to the highest level and Poland’s Anita Wlodarczyk could be the standard bearer for such a philosophy.

She is in the running to become European Athletics’ Female Athlete of the Year on Saturday after an extraordinary outdoor season.

Twice she broke her own hammer world record distance, on the second occasion becoming the first woman to smash the 80m barrier. No-one ever forgets the person that achieves what looked seemed impossible.

The distance of 81.08m came at the start of August in Cetniewo , Poland, a home event for a woman who by the end of the month was the world champion again after another prolific performance in Beijing.

She had first won the world title in Berlin 2009, a victory which came with her first world record success. Then it was 77.96m in the second round of the final and now, not only was she on top of the podium again, but she was there having taken the hammer to a stunning new level as she triumphed with a championship record that was not far off her world record.

Bridging that gap of six years between golds was impressive enough but to achieve it in a summer where she was now throwing more than three metres than the last time she was world champion was perhaps unique in track and field.
She had regained the world record last year with 79.58m, back in Berlin, after just retaining her European Athletics title in Zurich.

Then this June, in Wroclaw, she threw 79.83m, an effort that was not ratified because she was not competing in a stadium.

It hardly mattered.

The Kamila Skolimowska Memorial Throws Festival in Cetniewo is always an emotional occasion as tributes are paid to Poland’s late Olympic champion who died at the age of just 26 in 2009.

And how fitting a stage for Wlodarczyk to make history as she took the hammer beyond that 80m mark, her 81.08m coming after a first round foul.

Five words summer up what it meant. “I finally fulfilled my dream,” said Wlodarczyk.

By the time of the IAAF World Championships, she has turned 30 and remained the unstoppable force.

Victory was secured with a second round throw of 78.52m, which the rest were never going to reach, but that was just the start of an amazing night where she treated the crowd at the Bird’s Nest Stadium to something really special.

In the third round she smashed 80m again, with 80.27m, before moving into the circle for her next attempt with the anticipation growing.

She slapped her face, she composed herself and she launched the hammer into the Beijing evening, jumping up and down as it landed at 80.85m. The determination across her face quickly became a huge smile as the scoreboard flashed up this stunning mark, the second best of her career after a summer which will forever be part of athletics history.