Pawel Fajdek (Getty Images)
Pawel Fajdek (Getty Images)
  • COUNTRY Poland Poland
  • DATE OF BIRTH 4 JUN 1989

Focus on Athletes biographies are produced by the IAAF Communications Dept, and not by the IAAF Statistics and Documentation Division. If you have any enquiries concerning the information, please use the Contact IAAF page, selecting ‘Focus on Athletes Biographies’ in the drop down menu of contact area options.

Compiled 4 September 2014

 

Paweł FAJDEK, Poland (Hammer Throw)

Born: 4 June 1989, Świebodzice

Lives: Poznań

1.85/125kg

Coach: Czesław Cybulski

 

As a 12 year, old Paweł Fajdek decided to fight for a medal in the 2012 Olympics. When the time came, he went to London as a strong favourite and hit rock bottom – not a single measured attempt. He kept a cool head and redefined his attitude toward goal setting. “I don’t think too far forward anymore, but… the real fun starts for me in 2016 Rio de Janeiro. Four years later in Tokyo I aim for gold,” declares Fajdek who became the youngest World champion in the history of his event, just one year after London disaster.

Paweł Fajdek is a child of freedom. He was born on June 4th 1989, a strongly celebrated date of the first free elections in Poland, the crucial point in the process of the collapse of the communist empire in Eastern Europe that lasted for almost half a century. The history of contemporary Poland would, ever since, be divided into whatever happened before and after 1989. But this special birthday doesn’t seem to mean a whole lot for Fajdek, as he belongs to the new generation of Poles who naturally benefit from the freedom and consider themselves legitimate citizens of the world. “Maybe the date of my birth was kind of a sign that not everything in my life will be as ordinary and average as can be,” Fajdek ponders.

The first one to notice his above average skills in throwing was Jola Kumor, a PE teacher in Fajdek’s home village of Żarów.“ She grew up with my father, they were neighbours so maybe that’s why she watched me a bit closer. And really got involved to talk me and my parents into throwing. At the time, I was just an ordinary kid of 12 who enjoyed to kick the ball,” Fajdek recalls.

 

As a kid he wasn’t fascinated by any famous thrower, but his career wouldn’t have kicked off if it wasn’t for the influence of two big role-models – Szymon Ziółkowski and Kamila Skolimowska, both Olympic champions in hammer throw from Sydney. They visited Fajdek’s home village in 2001 and this is how Jola Kumor got inspired. She wanted to engage into sports some kids that weren’t exactly cut for running or jumping and started to form the group of throwers. Paweł joined the group and, from the very first practice, throwing struck him as fun.

“I always get along better with older boys and try to learn from them. As part of an all-round training. we played basketball, which I sucked at. But after a couple of lessons from one guy I started to really enjoy the game and even became a part of the school team and some minor league team,” Fajdek recalls.

As much as he like throwing, it wasn’t just for fun - he set his goals high.  Within a first week of training he decided he would go to the Olympics in 2012. But first things first - reaching the final of every competition he took part in was a must. Later on, his expectations moved toward medals.

“But I had my feet firmly on the ground. I knew what I was capable of and this I expected. I was always the youngest in the group and it was an extra motivation. I had lots of people to look up to. And it was good, because I like to have it difficult,” Fajdek explains.

 

Being the youngest stuck to him for good in 2013, when he made history winning gold at the IAAF World Championships in Moscow at 24, with the result of 81.97. None of the champions so far had accomplished that at such a young age.

Jola Kumor, the PE teacher from the village of Żarów, stayed his mentor for many years, even when he became a part of the national team and had access to other coaches. But as the big future was looming, they both tried to put his talent into good hands. After he took fourth place in the Junior World Championships in 2008, he started to train with the veteran of hammer throw, Szymon Ziółkowski in Warsaw. But he turned back to Jola after just one season. They continued together for a while, but soon decided it was time for Paweł to look further for a coach of the right calibre.

 “The London Olympics was approaching and we had no means or knowledge to train me for that kind of an event,” Fajdek admits.

They went together to the Olympic training resort of Cetniewo, where the national team of female throwers had a camp with veteran coach Czesław Cybulski. He is the kind of extraordinary coach that contributed to developing every single Polish thrower champion. But he is also famous for being a somewhat difficult man. When they met in Cetniewo, coach Cybulski had just freshly parted ways with Anita Włodarczyk, the  Olympic champion, and a World Recordholder. And it wasn’t a peaceful or quiet breakup as all the media reported.

 

“We asked him for help,” Fajdek admits.  After lots of talking, they agreed for a full time cooperation, which required Paweł to move to the big city of Poznań. 

“I had just started first year of college in Warsaw, but somehow manage to match it with Poznań residence up until now. My education process isn’t going very smoothly, but I’m very grateful that authorities of my college, Wyższa Szkoła Edukacji w Sporcie, let me do that according to my schedule,” Fajdek says.

He arrived to Poznań in 2010, right after Easter, with his elder brother Dawid. “I took him with me to cheer me up in the strange place, but it was only for a couple of days. I knew I can’t count for any allowances for a freshman. Not from coach Cybulski,” Fajdek says.

 

Coach Cybulski used to say that when he considers an athlete champion material, he makes him train extremely hard, on the limits of common sense. All that must have made for quite a challenge. “Maybe, but hammer throw isn’t for softies,” Fajdek says. On the other hand he enjoyed finally being on his own. Thanks to his club, Agros Zamość, he had his expenses paid.

He learnt to deal with 79 year old Cybulski just fine. “I expect him to be a good coach and that’s certainly who he is, after growing so many champions. And he expects me to be a good athlete, which I try to deliver.  Everything outside of it we try not to pay too much attention to. When a problem appears, we solve it as soon as possible and move on,” Fajdek says with the air of a cool and rational man way above his age of 25 years.

They formed a highly successful team, but in London - which seemed to be a central point of their cooperation Fajdek failed completely. Not a single of his throws was measured, after three attempts in qualifying that turned out fouls he packed his bag and left an Olympic Stadium for good.

“I won’t say I cried, I was just really upset and a couple of ugly words might have slipped out. My worst memory was watching an Olympic final from my dormitory room while I should have been at the stadium in the middle of the action. On top of that, the results weren’t impressive. I knew I could score better than the gold medal throw. Plus I wasn’t interested who wins, I left in the middle of the competition and took a walk in the Olympic village,” Fajdek recalls.

 

What went wrong in London? “Of course I thought about it and realised that the main cause was that I was prepared all too well. I was too strong, too quick, insanely healthy and my technique couldn’t contain all those qualities. It was too much to put it together into one good throw. And my cool head wasn’t there,” Fajdek admits. “I was prepared for 82 meters and I wanted to show it right from the beginning. I should have thrown some decent result, good enough to qualify for the final. And in the final I would start over.”

As good a thrower as he is, throwing the London disaster behind him would have been relatively easy if it wasn’t for other people. “All they seemed to want to talk about was how I deal with it. I had to go through it all that over and over again and it made me tired. But I couldn’t be too hard on myself. After all, my childhood dream came true, I went to the Olympics and nobody can take it away from me. I needed something positive to move on. And happily came Moscow,” Fajdek says.

The final of the 2013 IAAF World Championships in Moscow he remembers vivdly. “There wasn’t much to remember. It took just one throw on 81.97 and pretty much all was settled. My teammates later told me that my main rival, Hungary’s Krisztian Pars, looked like he was about to burst into tears. The result was more painful and shocking for him that it was joyful for me. For the remaining part of the competition I could just watch the show,” Fajdek recalls

What he learnt from all that is that the life of an athlete can be perverse. “In the Olympic season I felt great and kept winning, yet in London it all went wrong. In 2013, all the injuries I can think of kept bothering me, I strained my ankle and cut the finger of the hand that holds the hammer. I couldn’t train for months, I threw like a junior and felt down. Then I went to Moscow and became a World champion. I decided to set my goals one season at a time,” Fajdek says.

 

In 2014, with two hectic seasons behind him, he felt tired. The injuries, torn calf muscle among them, kept ruining his training plans, but he aimed for big results of 82 – 83 metres anyway. “When I thought of the European Championships in Zürich, gold medal was the only option, but then one day I got up from the chair and something cracked in my back,” Fajdek recalls. The diagnosis wasn’t very serious, something wrong with the ligaments, but the pain stayed with him throughout the season seriously damaging his preparation.

“I wondered how I was able to go past 82 meters in Zürich and take silver, technical stability wasn’t there. But still I knew I can win with anybody but Pars. Everything went according to the plan, under the circumstances,” Fajdek says.

Lack of training seems to suit him well, as just one week and only two light practice session later, he beat the national record of Szymon Ziółkowski, scoring 83,48m.

“I felt fresh and highly motivated, as the competition was special with lots of friends and family in the stands. Everything was just ideal, so my back has to obey,” Fajdek says. He set his special result at the meet in memory of Kamila Skolimowska, the deceased Olympic champion from Sydney. The event took place at the state of the art national stadium in Warsaw and for many Polish athletes was very emotional. “Pain was the last thing on my mind. I wanted to master a good throw and put together a good show, Fajdek explains.  

He scored an outstanding victory in the IAAF Challenge in Rieti, the final event of 2014 IAAF Hammer Throw Challenge with the winning throw of 81.11. This time he was better than Pars, but it was the Hungarian European Champion who took the title of the year, with Fajdek assuring second position in final standings. “It was important win over Pars just one week before the Continental Cup in Marrakech,” Fajdek assumed.

What’s on his mind when the season approaches to the conclusion?

“It was very good year overall. But now I will go back to Poland to prepare for a 82 or 83 metre throw in Marrakech. In 2015, a World champion title defence will be crucial. And 2016 in Rio de Janeiro would be the time to make up for London. I deserve that. And I’m not picky, my first Olympic medal can be of any colour. But in 2020 in Tokyo, I will definitely go for gold. The best period for throwers is between 28 and 33 years of age. So the real fun for me starts in Rio, I’ll be ready to peak,” Fajdek assures.

 


Personal Bests

Hammer Throw: 83.48 NR

 

Yearly Progression

2008: 64.58; 2009: 72.36; 2010: 76.07; 2011: 78.54; 2012: 81.39; 2013: 82.27; 2014: 83.48 NR

 

Career Highlights

2008

4th

World Junior Championships (Bydgoszcz)

75.31

2009

8th

European U23 Championships (Kaunas)

68.70

2010

5th

European U23 Cup Winter Throwing (Arles)

67.07

2011

2nd

European Team Championships (Stockholm)

76.98

2011

1st

European U23 Championships (Ostrava)

78.54

2011

1st

Universiade (Shenzhen)

78.14

2011

11th

IAAF World Championships (Daegu)

75.20

2012

q

Olympic Games (London)

NM

2012

2nd

IAAF Hammer Throw Challenge

236.47

2013

3rd

European Cup Winter Throwing (Castellón)

75.52

2013

1st

Universiade (Kazan)

79.99

2013

1st

IAAF World Championships (Moscow)

81.97

2013

1st

IAAF Hammer Throw Challenge

244.23

2013

1st

Jeux de la Francophonie (Nice)

78.28

2014

1st

European Cup Winter Throwing (Leiria)

78.75

2014

2nd

European Championships (Zürich)

82.05

2014

2nd

IAAF Hammer Throw Challenge

241.49

 

Prepared by Marta Mikiel for the IAAF ‘Focus on Athletes’ project. Copyright IAAF 2014.

 

Personal Best - Outdoor
Performance Wind Place Date
Hammer Throw 83.48 Warszawa (Stadion Narodowy) 23 AUG 2014
Hammer Throw (6kg) 75.31 Bydgoszcz 12 JUL 2008
Hammer Throw (5kg) 69.97 Lódz 27 JUL 2006
Personal Best - Indoor
Performance Wind Place Date
35libs Weight 23.22 Bydgoszcz 31 JAN 2014
Progression - Outdoor showShow All Graphs
Hammer Throw Show Graphshow
Performance Place Date
2014 83.48 Warszawa (Stadion Narodowy) 23 AUG
2013 82.27 Dubnica nad Váhom 21 AUG
2012 81.39 Montreuil-sous-Bois 05 JUN
2011 78.54 Ostrava 17 JUL
2010 76.07 Kraków 04 SEP
2009 72.36 Kraków 05 SEP
Hammer Throw (6kg) Show Graphshow
Performance Place Date
2008 75.31 Bydgoszcz 12 JUL
2007 68.32 Zamosc 17 JUN
Hammer Throw (5kg) Show Graphshow
Performance Place Date
2006 69.97 Lódz 27 JUL
Progression - Indoor showShow All Graphs
35libs Weight Show Graphshow
Performance Place Date
2014 23.22 Bydgoszcz 31 JAN
Honours - Hammer Throw
Rank Mark Wind Place Date
IAAF Continental Cup 2014 3 78.05 Marrakech (Le Grande Stade) 13 SEP 2014
14th IAAF World Championships 1 81.97 Moskva (Luzhniki) 12 AUG 2013
The XXX Olympic Games q2 NM London (OP) 03 AUG 2012
13th IAAF World Championships in Athletics 11 75.20 Daegu 29 AUG 2011
Honours - Hammer Throw (6kg)
Rank Mark Wind Place Date
12th IAAF World Junior Championships 4 75.31 Bydgoszcz 12 JUL 2008

Focus on Athletes biographies are produced by the IAAF Communications Dept, and not by the IAAF Statistics and Documentation Division. If you have any enquiries concerning the information, please use the Contact IAAF page, selecting ‘Focus on Athletes Biographies’ in the drop down menu of contact area options.

Compiled 4 September 2014

 

Paweł FAJDEK, Poland (Hammer Throw)

Born: 4 June 1989, Świebodzice

Lives: Poznań

1.85/125kg

Coach: Czesław Cybulski

 

As a 12 year, old Paweł Fajdek decided to fight for a medal in the 2012 Olympics. When the time came, he went to London as a strong favourite and hit rock bottom – not a single measured attempt. He kept a cool head and redefined his attitude toward goal setting. “I don’t think too far forward anymore, but… the real fun starts for me in 2016 Rio de Janeiro. Four years later in Tokyo I aim for gold,” declares Fajdek who became the youngest World champion in the history of his event, just one year after London disaster.

Paweł Fajdek is a child of freedom. He was born on June 4th 1989, a strongly celebrated date of the first free elections in Poland, the crucial point in the process of the collapse of the communist empire in Eastern Europe that lasted for almost half a century. The history of contemporary Poland would, ever since, be divided into whatever happened before and after 1989. But this special birthday doesn’t seem to mean a whole lot for Fajdek, as he belongs to the new generation of Poles who naturally benefit from the freedom and consider themselves legitimate citizens of the world. “Maybe the date of my birth was kind of a sign that not everything in my life will be as ordinary and average as can be,” Fajdek ponders.

The first one to notice his above average skills in throwing was Jola Kumor, a PE teacher in Fajdek’s home village of Żarów.“ She grew up with my father, they were neighbours so maybe that’s why she watched me a bit closer. And really got involved to talk me and my parents into throwing. At the time, I was just an ordinary kid of 12 who enjoyed to kick the ball,” Fajdek recalls.

 

As a kid he wasn’t fascinated by any famous thrower, but his career wouldn’t have kicked off if it wasn’t for the influence of two big role-models – Szymon Ziółkowski and Kamila Skolimowska, both Olympic champions in hammer throw from Sydney. They visited Fajdek’s home village in 2001 and this is how Jola Kumor got inspired. She wanted to engage into sports some kids that weren’t exactly cut for running or jumping and started to form the group of throwers. Paweł joined the group and, from the very first practice, throwing struck him as fun.

“I always get along better with older boys and try to learn from them. As part of an all-round training. we played basketball, which I sucked at. But after a couple of lessons from one guy I started to really enjoy the game and even became a part of the school team and some minor league team,” Fajdek recalls.

As much as he like throwing, it wasn’t just for fun - he set his goals high.  Within a first week of training he decided he would go to the Olympics in 2012. But first things first - reaching the final of every competition he took part in was a must. Later on, his expectations moved toward medals.

“But I had my feet firmly on the ground. I knew what I was capable of and this I expected. I was always the youngest in the group and it was an extra motivation. I had lots of people to look up to. And it was good, because I like to have it difficult,” Fajdek explains.

 

Being the youngest stuck to him for good in 2013, when he made history winning gold at the IAAF World Championships in Moscow at 24, with the result of 81.97. None of the champions so far had accomplished that at such a young age.

Jola Kumor, the PE teacher from the village of Żarów, stayed his mentor for many years, even when he became a part of the national team and had access to other coaches. But as the big future was looming, they both tried to put his talent into good hands. After he took fourth place in the Junior World Championships in 2008, he started to train with the veteran of hammer throw, Szymon Ziółkowski in Warsaw. But he turned back to Jola after just one season. They continued together for a while, but soon decided it was time for Paweł to look further for a coach of the right calibre.

 “The London Olympics was approaching and we had no means or knowledge to train me for that kind of an event,” Fajdek admits.

They went together to the Olympic training resort of Cetniewo, where the national team of female throwers had a camp with veteran coach Czesław Cybulski. He is the kind of extraordinary coach that contributed to developing every single Polish thrower champion. But he is also famous for being a somewhat difficult man. When they met in Cetniewo, coach Cybulski had just freshly parted ways with Anita Włodarczyk, the  Olympic champion, and a World Recordholder. And it wasn’t a peaceful or quiet breakup as all the media reported.

 

“We asked him for help,” Fajdek admits.  After lots of talking, they agreed for a full time cooperation, which required Paweł to move to the big city of Poznań. 

“I had just started first year of college in Warsaw, but somehow manage to match it with Poznań residence up until now. My education process isn’t going very smoothly, but I’m very grateful that authorities of my college, Wyższa Szkoła Edukacji w Sporcie, let me do that according to my schedule,” Fajdek says.

He arrived to Poznań in 2010, right after Easter, with his elder brother Dawid. “I took him with me to cheer me up in the strange place, but it was only for a couple of days. I knew I can’t count for any allowances for a freshman. Not from coach Cybulski,” Fajdek says.

 

Coach Cybulski used to say that when he considers an athlete champion material, he makes him train extremely hard, on the limits of common sense. All that must have made for quite a challenge. “Maybe, but hammer throw isn’t for softies,” Fajdek says. On the other hand he enjoyed finally being on his own. Thanks to his club, Agros Zamość, he had his expenses paid.

He learnt to deal with 79 year old Cybulski just fine. “I expect him to be a good coach and that’s certainly who he is, after growing so many champions. And he expects me to be a good athlete, which I try to deliver.  Everything outside of it we try not to pay too much attention to. When a problem appears, we solve it as soon as possible and move on,” Fajdek says with the air of a cool and rational man way above his age of 25 years.

They formed a highly successful team, but in London - which seemed to be a central point of their cooperation Fajdek failed completely. Not a single of his throws was measured, after three attempts in qualifying that turned out fouls he packed his bag and left an Olympic Stadium for good.

“I won’t say I cried, I was just really upset and a couple of ugly words might have slipped out. My worst memory was watching an Olympic final from my dormitory room while I should have been at the stadium in the middle of the action. On top of that, the results weren’t impressive. I knew I could score better than the gold medal throw. Plus I wasn’t interested who wins, I left in the middle of the competition and took a walk in the Olympic village,” Fajdek recalls.

 

What went wrong in London? “Of course I thought about it and realised that the main cause was that I was prepared all too well. I was too strong, too quick, insanely healthy and my technique couldn’t contain all those qualities. It was too much to put it together into one good throw. And my cool head wasn’t there,” Fajdek admits. “I was prepared for 82 meters and I wanted to show it right from the beginning. I should have thrown some decent result, good enough to qualify for the final. And in the final I would start over.”

As good a thrower as he is, throwing the London disaster behind him would have been relatively easy if it wasn’t for other people. “All they seemed to want to talk about was how I deal with it. I had to go through it all that over and over again and it made me tired. But I couldn’t be too hard on myself. After all, my childhood dream came true, I went to the Olympics and nobody can take it away from me. I needed something positive to move on. And happily came Moscow,” Fajdek says.

The final of the 2013 IAAF World Championships in Moscow he remembers vivdly. “There wasn’t much to remember. It took just one throw on 81.97 and pretty much all was settled. My teammates later told me that my main rival, Hungary’s Krisztian Pars, looked like he was about to burst into tears. The result was more painful and shocking for him that it was joyful for me. For the remaining part of the competition I could just watch the show,” Fajdek recalls

What he learnt from all that is that the life of an athlete can be perverse. “In the Olympic season I felt great and kept winning, yet in London it all went wrong. In 2013, all the injuries I can think of kept bothering me, I strained my ankle and cut the finger of the hand that holds the hammer. I couldn’t train for months, I threw like a junior and felt down. Then I went to Moscow and became a World champion. I decided to set my goals one season at a time,” Fajdek says.

 

In 2014, with two hectic seasons behind him, he felt tired. The injuries, torn calf muscle among them, kept ruining his training plans, but he aimed for big results of 82 – 83 metres anyway. “When I thought of the European Championships in Zürich, gold medal was the only option, but then one day I got up from the chair and something cracked in my back,” Fajdek recalls. The diagnosis wasn’t very serious, something wrong with the ligaments, but the pain stayed with him throughout the season seriously damaging his preparation.

“I wondered how I was able to go past 82 meters in Zürich and take silver, technical stability wasn’t there. But still I knew I can win with anybody but Pars. Everything went according to the plan, under the circumstances,” Fajdek says.

Lack of training seems to suit him well, as just one week and only two light practice session later, he beat the national record of Szymon Ziółkowski, scoring 83,48m.

“I felt fresh and highly motivated, as the competition was special with lots of friends and family in the stands. Everything was just ideal, so my back has to obey,” Fajdek says. He set his special result at the meet in memory of Kamila Skolimowska, the deceased Olympic champion from Sydney. The event took place at the state of the art national stadium in Warsaw and for many Polish athletes was very emotional. “Pain was the last thing on my mind. I wanted to master a good throw and put together a good show, Fajdek explains.  

He scored an outstanding victory in the IAAF Challenge in Rieti, the final event of 2014 IAAF Hammer Throw Challenge with the winning throw of 81.11. This time he was better than Pars, but it was the Hungarian European Champion who took the title of the year, with Fajdek assuring second position in final standings. “It was important win over Pars just one week before the Continental Cup in Marrakech,” Fajdek assumed.

What’s on his mind when the season approaches to the conclusion?

“It was very good year overall. But now I will go back to Poland to prepare for a 82 or 83 metre throw in Marrakech. In 2015, a World champion title defence will be crucial. And 2016 in Rio de Janeiro would be the time to make up for London. I deserve that. And I’m not picky, my first Olympic medal can be of any colour. But in 2020 in Tokyo, I will definitely go for gold. The best period for throwers is between 28 and 33 years of age. So the real fun for me starts in Rio, I’ll be ready to peak,” Fajdek assures.

 


Personal Bests

Hammer Throw: 83.48 NR

 

Yearly Progression

2008: 64.58; 2009: 72.36; 2010: 76.07; 2011: 78.54; 2012: 81.39; 2013: 82.27; 2014: 83.48 NR

 

Career Highlights

2008

4th

World Junior Championships (Bydgoszcz)

75.31

2009

8th

European U23 Championships (Kaunas)

68.70

2010

5th

European U23 Cup Winter Throwing (Arles)

67.07

2011

2nd

European Team Championships (Stockholm)

76.98

2011

1st

European U23 Championships (Ostrava)

78.54

2011

1st

Universiade (Shenzhen)

78.14

2011

11th

IAAF World Championships (Daegu)

75.20

2012

q

Olympic Games (London)

NM

2012

2nd

IAAF Hammer Throw Challenge

236.47

2013

3rd

European Cup Winter Throwing (Castellón)

75.52

2013

1st

Universiade (Kazan)

79.99

2013

1st

IAAF World Championships (Moscow)

81.97

2013

1st

IAAF Hammer Throw Challenge

244.23

2013

1st

Jeux de la Francophonie (Nice)

78.28

2014

1st

European Cup Winter Throwing (Leiria)

78.75

2014

2nd

European Championships (Zürich)

82.05

2014

2nd

IAAF Hammer Throw Challenge

241.49

 

Prepared by Marta Mikiel for the IAAF ‘Focus on Athletes’ project. Copyright IAAF 2014.