Pawel Fajdek and Dafne Schippers are on top of the world again. A year on from disappointments at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, the pair retained their world titles after another amazing night for Europe at the IAAF World Championships London 2017.
Fittingly one success quickly followed another at the London Stadium on Friday, with Polish hammer star Fajdek ending the evening stretched out in the hammer circle in celebration of making history as the Netherlands’ Schippers was about to take her place in the blocks ahead of retaining her 200m title in scintillating fashion.
It was a glorious moment for the pair who left last summer’s Olympics in Rio without the result they wanted and for Fajdek, 28, his frustrations went on even longer.
"I waited for this competition at this stadium for five years, so it was very important for me to get this revenge for the Olympics in here,” he said. “I am a three-time world champion – I made history.”
The revenge he talked about was for his three fouls in qualifying in 2012, a shock which was matched 12 months ago when, as the overwhelming favourite, once more he failed to make the Olympic final.
But now he takes his place in world championships history as the only man to win the hammer throw title on three occasions.
From no mark in 2012 to certainly making his mark in 2017.
Fajdek was trailing as the competition entered the third round but then he launched his hammer out to 79.73m. He increased the distance in round four to 79.81m, hit 79.49m with his penultimate effort before a final-round foul preceded him lying on the ground in sheer delight.
His triumph came on a good evening for Europe in the event, as Russia’s Valeriy Pronkin – competing as an Authorised Neutralised Athlete – won silver with 78.16m while Fajdek’s fellow Pole Wojciech Nowicki finished third for his third major competition in a row after bronze medals in Beijing 2015 and Rio 2016 with 78.03m.
"The competition started for me after the second round,” added Fajdek. “I started slowly but despite the first fault I saw it was flying far so I stayed calm. When I managed 79 metres in the third round, I knew I was in the top eight and will fight for medals.”
At just 28, and remembering hammer throwers are often still at the peak of their powers well into their 30s, he is still young enough to head to the Olympics in Tokyo in 2020 for that elusive gold while his most immediate championship plans will be the defence of his European crown in Berlin next summer, where the European Athletics Championships will be part of the first multi-sport European Championships along with co-hosts Glasgow.
Whatever upsets he has gone through when missing out at the Olympics, he has shown immense mental strength to overcome them.
He became world champion in Moscow in 2013 after his London misery, and now he has done it again the summer after another Olympics he would want to forget.
Schippers, 25, went to Rio as the 200m world champion but she left with silver – still a superb achievement – yet not the medal she wanted after also finishing fifth in the 100m.
Now she is back on the top of the podium, once more showing the intensity to succeed at this distance in what has been a world championships to remember for the Dutchwoman who won bronze in Monday’s 100m final.
"It was very important to win,” said Schippers. “I worked so hard in the last years and last year was not the easiest for me. I changed everything and got a new coach, so I am very happy.”
Schippers has also confirmed she intends to be in Berlin next summer and she will go there with the honour of being the world champion for the second time in a row after doing in the final what Dafne Schippers does best.
On Friday, she started well and she left the field reeling before the bend, then came the power over the last 80 metres, defying anyone to go past her.
No one could as Schippers won in a season’s best of 22.05, holding off the Ivory Coast’s Marie-Josee Ta Lou who came through with a late surge to take her second sprint silver in 22.08.
"It's great, especially with a gold medal, I am very pleased,” reflected Schippers.
“My secret is enjoying the sport and enjoying my racing. I feel a little bit nervous starting out but I am a final runner and I am grateful for the experience now it's over."
She is coached by Rana Reider at the Dutch National Training Centre and she too now has better memories of this London Stadium, where five years ago she was 10th in the heptathlon as Great Britain’s Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill won Olympic gold.
Who would have believed then that Schippers would develop into one of the greatest sprinters of all-time who is expected to add to her expanding medal collection in Berlin in 12 months’ time.