Pawel Fajdek

Athlete Profile

    Poland Poland
    4 JUN 1989
Pawel Fajdek in the hammer final at the IAAF World Championships, Beijing 2015 (Getty Images)

Personal Best - Outdoor

Performance Wind Place Date
Hammer Throw 83.93 Szczecin (Miejski Stadion) 09 AUG 2015
Hammer Throw (6kg) 75.31 Bydgoszcz (Zdzislaw Krzyszkowiak) 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

Hammer Throw

Performance Place Date
2016 81.87 Bydgoszcz (Zdzislaw Krzyszkowiak) 25 JUN
2015 83.93 Szczecin (Miejski Stadion) 09 AUG
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)

Performance Place Date
2008 75.31 Bydgoszcz (Zdzislaw Krzyszkowiak) 12 JUL
2007 68.32 Zamosc 17 JUN

Hammer Throw (5kg)

Performance Place Date
2006 69.97 Lódz 27 JUL

Progression - Indoor

35libs Weight

Performance Place Date
2014 23.22 Bydgoszcz 31 JAN

Honours - Hammer Throw

Rank Mark Wind Place Date
15th IAAF World Championships 1 80.88 Beijing (National Stadium) 23 AUG 2015
2nd 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 (Olympic Stadium) 03 AUG 2012
13th IAAF World Championships in Athletics 11 75.20 Daegu (DS) 29 AUG 2011

Honours - Hammer Throw (6kg)

Rank Mark Wind Place Date
12th IAAF World Junior Championships 4 75.31 Bydgoszcz (Zdzislaw Krzyszkowiak) 12 JUL 2008

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Updated 11 August 2015

Paweł FAJDEK, Poland (Hammer Throw)

Born: 4 June 1989, Świebodzice

Lives: Poznań


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 Record holder. 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 seemed 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, which stayed top result of 2014.

“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 an important win over Pars just one week before the Continental Cup in Marrakech,” Fajdek stated before Marrakech. However, in Morocco the Pole could only finish third, behind his Hungarian rival and Egyptian Mostafa Elgamel.

“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 assured on the rise of 2015 and it looked like he’s determined to deliver. Or even to speed things up a little.

To say that he goes to IAAF World Championships in Beijing as a favourite would be a bit of an understatement. Fajdek shines and steps way ahead of the pack. He’s the only thrower to score over 80 meters this year and he does that on the regular basis. Just before Beijing, Fajdek’s name marks the nine best positions of the IAAF 2015 top list. He was unbeatable even when his personal life entered the whole new era. He accomplished his third best result of the year – 82.76 in the Halle meet on 16 May – just one day before his daughter Laila was born. “Oh, you just need to be able to zone out. Besides it wasn’t like I was waiting to get fired, I expected something very pleasant,” he explained.

Unfortunately there was something less pleasant which awaited as the season unfolded. During one practice session, in June, Fajdek accidentally sent his hammer straight into the leg of coach Czesław Cybulski who was watching from the 77 metre line. And out of all people, a veteran throwers’ coach should have known how far his athlete can throw! The 80-year old Cybulski was taken to the hospital with fracture of the tibia bone and knee injury. The accident – as expected – was a huge story all over Polish media. Fajdek wasn’t quick to talk about that, but the media frenzy didn’t hurt him much. He stayed stronger than that and continued his immaculate season. But his coach needed a break for recovery, so he temporarily turned to his old mentor, Jolanta Kumor.

In spite of his dominant position, Fajdek expects hard competition in Beijing, naming Kristian Pars and the returning Ivan Tsikhan among the strongest rivals.

“I wish it all goes like last year at the Kamila Skolimowska Memorial. Six times over 80 meters with new Polish record. That would be difficult to repeat,” he predicted at the beginning of August. And how wrong he was as he delivered just a week later in his last start before Beijing. On 9 August, at the traditional Janusz Kusociński Memorial in Szczecin, he wrapped it up in three attempts. All of them over 80 meters, two of them better that his PR and national record. Final result – an amazing 83.93. And how he get prepared for that?

“I drove in the steaming heat all across the country and then got my hands all dirty with repairing the car exhaust pipe till early morning hours. I slept till 2 pm, got my breakfast at 4.30. And I went competing,” he explained. Simple as that.

Coach Cybulski watched his record throw on the hospital’s TV set and felt like his recovery is speeding up. He can’t wait to start working with Fajdek on the new World Record.

According to the coach, the best result in the history of hammer throw (86.74) can be beaten as soon as next year.

“Paweł is super-talented and with the progress he made recently, his possibilities are unlimited. But in Beijing he should be careful even though he leads on the world lists. This is what the competition in sports is all about. The winner isn’t the one who’s the best, but the one who throws the best that day,” he warns.

“Beijing? Whoever has the strongest head wins,” Fajdek calculates. It is safe to say that Fajdek’s head can count as strong.

Personal Bests

Hammer Throw: 83.93 NR (2015)

Yearly Progression

2008: 64.58; 2009: 72.36; 2010: 76.07; 2011: 78.54; 2012: 81.39; 2013: 82.27; 2014: 83.48; 2015: 83.93 (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
2014 3rd IAAF Continental Cup (Marrakech) 78.05
2015 1st European Team Championships (Cheboksary) 81.64
2015 1st Universiade (Gwangju) 80.05 

Prepared by Marta Mikiel for the IAAF ‘Focus on Athletes’ project. Copyright IAAF 2014-2015.