Pawel Fajdek

Athlete Profile

  • COUNTRY
    Poland Poland
  • DATE OF BIRTH
    04 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
2017 83.44 Ostrava (Mestský Stadion) 27 JUN
2016 82.47 Warszawa (Stadion Narodowy) 28 AUG
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 (Jean Delbert) 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
IAAF World Championships London 2017 1 79.81 London (Olympic Stadium) 11 AUG 2017
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

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 2 August 2017

 

Paweł FAJDEK, Poland (Hammer Throw)

Born: 4 June 1989, Świebodzice

Lives: Żarów

1.85/125kg

Coach: Jolanta Kumor

 

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, rebuilt his position as an overwhelming dominator and… hit rock bottom again, but harder.

 

The 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics turned out to be even worse. He missed the Olympic final for the second time straight but this time it was hard to attribute it just to a bad luck. He had nobody to lose to but himself. And he lost. Is it some kind of a pattern of bad Olympics? Fingers crossed for Tokyo 2020. But in the meantime let’s see if Paweł Fajdek, by far the best hammer thrower of the last several seasons, will be able to sort things out with London Stadium.

 

This is where he can make history again, as the first hammer thrower to win the World Championship three times in a row. This is not a new thing for Fajdek who won his first World title in Moscow 2013 as the youngest hammer thrower in history, just one year after his London disaster.

 

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, remained 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 Cybulski, 79 year old at the time, 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 metres 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 metres 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 metres 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 metres, 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).

 

Fajdek’s dominance continued in the Olympic season. He sat undisturbed at the summit of the Top List with ten results over 80 metres, including the one that gained him a 2016 European title in Amsterdam. Winning the Olympics seemed to be nothing but a routine job but turned out to be drama without happy ending. In the early morning qualifying session all he could muster was 72 metres, a mediocre result for a champion candidate. After his last attempt he laid on the turf face down and wept.

 

“It’s a nightmare. I’m not able to say why I failed you all and myself,” he said in an emotional video he posted online just hours after his Rio de Janeiro disappointment. “I’ve been winning all the competitions for years, but together with the Olympics came the most terrible day. I know what were your expectations from me. Mine was the same. I deeply apologise and I hope you stay with me and next year in London I will do something to make us all proud of me again. And I will be able to say the Olympics was just an accident.”

 

Among the aftermaths of the accident was that after 6 years he decided to part ways with coach Cybulski and returned to coach Jolanta Kumor, the first person who saw greatness in him.

 

“It all went as planned. Coach Cybulski helped me a lot. But for a man of his age – and he is 82 – handling the training of a professional athlete could be too taxing. I returned to my first coach, the one from my home village and I feel very well about it. We are able to keep our cooperation on a very high level and I profit form my mental comfort. My results speak for themselves,” Fajdek assures.

 

All of them but one. Unexpectedly, the dominator had to bow out in the 2017 Polish national championships, where his countryman Wojciech Nowicki took gold, outscoring Fajdek by almost 2 metres (80.47 to 78.64). But on the world scene, Fajdek’s dominant position is steady with the nine best results of 2017 world list. Needless to say he’s heading to the World Championships in London as a strong favourite. 

 

“I hope the competition goes exactly the way it did twice before. I hope to win the World Championships for the third time and achieve something that nobody achieved before me. That is my goal. For the last four years I kept winning, I lost only two competitions, one of them happened to be Olympics. I was young and that was a long time ago. I don’t think of the London stadium as my unlucky place. I learnt my lesson. Bad day can catch you anytime, all you can do is move on and try to win another event. And this is what I’m going to do,” Fajdek said.

 

The man is in quest for the triple crown.

 

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); 2016: 82.47; 2017: 83.44.

 

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

2015    1st                    IAAF World Championships (Beijing)                                      80.88

2015    1st                     IAAF Hammer Throw Challenge                                            248.01

2016    1st                    European Championships (Amsterdam)                                  80.93

2016    17th q               Olympic Games (Rio de Janeiro)                                            72.00

2016    1st                     IAAF Hammer Throw Challenge                                            242.89

2017    1st                    European Team Championships (Lille)                                    78.29

 

 

Prepared by Marta Mikiel for the IAAF ‘Focus on Athletes project. Copyright IAAF 2014-2017

 

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