Krisztian Pars takes hammer thriller

Zurich
European Athletics

Hungary's Krisztian Pars established a new World lead of 82.69m on his way to the European hammer throw title in Zurich on Saturday.

At the end of the month it will be 28 years since Yuriy Sedykh broke the hammer world record with his 86.74m at the European Athletics Championships in Stuttgart. It was not the only landmark the Soviet Union star achieved on that day in Germany because his win made it a hat-trick of crowns and no other man since had retained their title in this discipline on this stage.

Until just around 4.30 p.m. on Saturday afternoon at the Letzigrund Stadium in Zurich that is, when Hungarian Krisztian Pars gave one final twist in the hammer ring and launched his way to a world leading throw and a successful defence of his crown.

Even with desire for individual success, two of his main rivals, Poland's Pawel Fajdek and Szymon Ziolkowski, showed the spirit among this collection of muscle as they stood clapping at the success of the Hungarian back on top of the podium after his last effort.

It was quite a performance from the shaven-headed Pars, who took the lead with 82.18m in the third round - Fajdek had led with 78.48m - before sealing victory with 82.69m, a throw that was 20 centimetres further than the world best he had set in Szekesfehervar last month.

And, equally, he beat Fadjdek, the man who ended his fine run last summer to win the world title in Moscow when Olympic champion Pars finished second.

This time those positions were reversed with the Pole's 82.05m from round five, a throw that was heading towards the lead as it flew through this bright afternoon sunshine, but did not go far enough, winning silver and Russian Sergey Litvinov securing bronze with 79.35m, also from round five.

Pars was the only finallist from the eight who made the cut to complete his programme without a foul, throwing 78.11m, 78.45m, 78.36m and 81.69m to supplement his two efforts beyond 82m.

It was a pretty good day at the office for an athlete who also won bronze in Barcelona in 2010 before his Helsinki victory two years ago.

"The European title is amazing," said Pars, 32.  "The last throw felt like 83.50 and I am sure I will throw that next year. I was watching Pawel. He is very strong, so he managed 82 metres but I know he had some problems. I am tired now because the event was long and I hope we will celebrate with my team."

Fadjek said: "I had only just more than one week to prepare, so I could not expect miracles after my arm injury but 82m is really not that bad."

It was Litvinov's first international medal and he said: "I am very happy. My result - 79.35m - was a surprise. I was hoping for 78m."

Pars is still young enough to be around in two years time for the next European Athletics Championships in Amsterdam to attempt to match Sedykh's triple triumph. Not that he needs another gold medal to cement his place in the sport's history books because over the past few years he has done enough to ensure that.