Haratyk and Nowicki lead Polish doubles in the throws

Michal Haratyk and Konrad Bukowiecki took gold and silver for Poland in the shot put at the Berlin 2018 European Athletics Championships
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Michal Haratyk and Konrad Bukowiecki took gold and silver for Poland in the shot put at the Berlin 2018 European Athletics Championships

Poland had a night to remember in the Olympic Stadium in Berlin on Tuesday as their men won European gold and silver in both the hammer and the shot put.

On the first evening of finals at the Berlin 2018 European Athletics Championships, Wojciech Nowicki triumphed in the hammer from the defending champion Pawel Fajdek and then two hours later Michal Haratyk won the shot put from Konrad Bukowiecki.

Finally the wait is over for a gold medal for Nowicki – at the age of 29 – as he turned four major bronze medals into the greatest moment of his hammer career.

Nowicki has finished third at the Olympic Games, World Championships and European Championships but he arrived here as the European leader with a best of 81.85m and though he did not reach that far tonight, he was the only man to hit the 80m mark.

That came as early as round two after his opener of 77.19m in a competition where Fajdek put down his own mark with his first throw of 78.69m. It proved to be his best but then Nowicki landed the hammer at 80.00m exactly in round two before going even further - to 80.12m - ahead of a 79.00m and 78.81m in the two of his last three efforts.

But at the end, the two Poles shared a smile and a celebration on another glorious evening for the country in the event. Hungary's European U23 champion Bence Halasz won bronze with 77.36m while in fifth, Norway's Elvind Henriksen broke the national record with a third round 76.86m.

"Wojciech is my good friend and he was the champion today," said Fajdek.

There was great expectation from the home crowd that David Storl would retain his shot put crown and celebrate gold again for Germany.

And from the way it started, the excitement rose as Storl took a first round lead with 21.41m.

But after beginning with 20.94m, Haratyk, who was second behind Storl in Amsterdam two years ago, then launched the winning effort with a second round 21.72m. That effort was not surpassed.

Bukowiecki, who has been struggling with a finger injury since his monstrous 22.00m put indoors, put the pressure on. It was his second round throw of 21.66m that brought him silver.

Storl had only one more legal throw - a third round throw of 21.34m - but he still took bronze with Bukowiecki ending with 20.84m and Haratyk, already crowned champion, finished with another excellent throw of 21.66m.

In a high quality competition, Bob Bertemes from Luxembourg was sixth with a national record of 21.00m.

“Today, it was a really good day for the Polish athletics. I am very glad for Konrad but until the sixth attempts, I felt in danger,” said Haratyk, who said after the qualification that he expected Bukowiecki would provide him with the biggest challenge.

“It was not easy but I am satisfied with my attempts and the distance. I think the level of the Polish athletics is very high and I hope we will top the medal table again.”