|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|
|35libs Weight||23.22||Bydgoszcz||31 JAN 2014|
|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|
|2008||75.31||Bydgoszcz (Zdzislaw Krzyszkowiak)||12 JUL|
|The XXXI Olympic Games||7q1||72.00||Rio de Janeiro (Estádio Olímpico)||17 AUG 2016|
|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|
|12th IAAF World Junior Championships||4||75.31||Bydgoszcz (Zdzislaw Krzyszkowiak)||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.
Updated 30 July 2016
Paweł FAJDEK, Poland (Hammer Throw)
Born: 4 June 1989, Świebodzice
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 the London disaster. His Olympic predictions turned out to be strikingly too cautious. As in Rio de Janeiro it would be hard to imagine any athletic event with a stronger favourite than hammer throw and Paweł Fajdek.
Fajdek is a child of freedom. He was born on 4 June 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 who contributed to developing every single Polish throws 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 27 years.
One of the issues that could cause some differences between them is the ever growing collection of Fajdek’s tattoos and body piercings. His coach is a rather old school type, who values a clean shaven look for men.
“He commented on my first earring and when I grew a beard and then he gave up on that”, Fajdek admits.
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 one of his throws was measured; after three attempts in qualifying that turned out fouls, he packed his bag and left the 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 the 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 vividly. “There wasn’t much to remember. It took just one throw of 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 sprained 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, a 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.
“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. And good show it was with 6 throws over 80 meters including a new Polish record.
He scored an outstanding victory in the IAAF Challenge in Rieti, the final event of the 2014 IAAF Hammer Throw Challenge, with a 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 the 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.
2014 was the beginning of what can be called the “Fajdek era” in world hammer throw. The year concluded with Fajdek’s mentioned result of 83.48 as a world leading mark. In 2015 Fajdek shined and stepped way ahead of the pack. He was the only thrower to score over 80 metres that year and doing that on a regular basis. Fajdek’s name marked the twelve best positions of the IAAF 2015 top list.
He was unbeatable even when his personal life was far from its usual rhythm. He recorded 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 temporarily turned to his old mentor, Jolanta Kumor. And coach Cybulski felt like his recovery was speeding up as he watched on the hospital’s TV set his trainee continuing an immaculate season.
On 9 August, at the traditional Janusz Kusociński Memorial in Szczecin, he wrapped it up with just three attempts, all of them over 80 meters, he set new PR and national record. Final result – an amazing 83.93. And how did 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.
No wonder Fajdek is seriously expected to beat the World record. The result - 86.74 - was set in 1986 by the Soviet Union’s Yuriy Sedykh, three years before the Pole was born.
“I know I have it in me. It’s just a matter of the right technique”, Fajdek claims.
The World Championship title defence, goal number one for the 2015 season, went as expected. An unexpected bonus in the Bird’s Nest stadium in Beijing was that he could celebrate his victory (80.88) together with fellow Pole Wojciech Nowicki, who took bronze (78.55).
In the Olympic season Fajdek’s dominance continues. He sits undisturbed at the summit of the top list with ten results over 80 metres. But winning the Olympics would be anything but a routine job.
“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”, Fajdek used to say couple of years ago. It’s safe to say he may be willing to speed things up a little. But at the same time he is well aware that too high expectations can lead him nowhere.
“If I had brought a medal from London, it’s difficult to say what effect it would have had on me. Maybe it would have gone to my head. I talked about it with my psychologist. It’s hard to stay motivated when you reach the most important goal at the very beginning. The way it is, I still have a goal to pursue. All I ask for in Rio is two successful attempts, one for qualifications and one for the final. I don’t care for the World record, just for the victory”, he says.
Hammer Throw: 83.93 NR (2015)
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); 2016: 81.87
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
2015 1st IAAF World Championships (Beijing) 80.88
2015 1st IAAF Hammer Throw Challenge 248.01
2016 1st European Championships (Amsterdam) 80.93
Prepared by Marta Mikiel for the IAAF ‘Focus on Athletes project. Copyright IAAF 2014- 2016.