As a young girl, Reka Gyuratz used to wander over to the Hammer training centre in her home town of Szombathely to watch the athletes go through their paces and sometimes compete. It proved to be an inspirational experience because she took up the event at the age of 13 and became the country’s latest global champion in Donetsk on Saturday.
All four of her valid throws with the 3kg implement landed over 70 metres and her best of 73.20m in the second round secured her the gold medal, as well as the championship record as it was the first time that this weight of Hammer had been used.
Nevertheless, with a World youth best performance of 76.06m to her credit, a distance achieved three weeks ago on home soil in the town of Zalaegerszeg, she had slightly mixed feeling about the result.
“I’m pleased and technically everything went well. The circle was good, that was not a problem, but beforehand I really wanted to throw 75 metres,” mused Gyuratz.
Notwithstanding the fact that she wanted to throw farther, the Hungarian national anthem sounded out across the RSC Olimpiyskiy stadium for the first time at this year’s IAAF World Youth Championships and only the fifth time ever in the history of the event.
On all four previous occasions, it has also been to celebrate Hammer wins including for the man who took an Olympic gold medal last summer but who got his first global honour 14 years ago at the very first World Youth Championships, Krisztian Pars.
By coincidence, or perhaps not in a country where the Hammer is as synonymous with athletics success as much as steeplechasing in Kenya and javelin throwing in Finland, Pars has been a big influence on Gyuratz.
“I train with Krisztian and he’s helped me a lot. He constantly encourages me, at least when I see him as he travels a lot. In fact I like training with the men. However, Krisztian didn’t actually tell me very much about the World Youth Championships, how to mentally prepare for them or what it was like in 1999 when the championships were in Bydgoszcz. He just wished me ‘good luck’ and that was it,” grinned Gyuratz.
The salutation will have to suffice for another championship as Gyuratz will spend just one day at home, before heading to the Italian town of Rieti for the European Athletics Junior Championships next week.
She will be throwing the heavier 4kg Hammer there, with which she has a personal best of 62.87m.
In fact, the World Youth Championships may have been the last time she throws the lighter girls Hammer as she knows she now has to make the transition, and quickly, to being a junior thrower.
“I prefer throwing the lighter Hammer but my future is ahead of me,” said Gyuratz, whose ability has already marked her down as a long-range medal contender at for next year’s IAAF World Junior Championships in Eugene, USA.
Like Pars, and the Donetsk silver medallist Helga Volgyi who is not only her competitive rival but her friend and the pair are rooming together in Donetsk, Gyuratz is coached by Zsolt Nemeth.
Nemeth was the 1999 IAAF World Championships silver medallist who took over the coaching of the renowned Szombathely group after the death of his father Pal in 2009.
Still just 41, Nemeth junior has already had global success with Pars but he can now celebrate having produced a women’s world champion in the short time since he hung up his own Hammer and stopped competing in 2008.
Phil Minshull for the IAAF