Pawel Fajdek at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games (Getty Images / AFP) © Copyright
Report Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Report: men's hammer qualifying – Rio 2016 Olympic Games

The men’s hammer qualifiers saw the biggest shock of the Olympics athletics programme so far with Poland’s two-time world champion Pavel Fajdek failing to progress to Friday’s final.

Fajdek, who had an unbeaten streak of 29 competitions dating back to March last year, could do no better than 72.00m and that was not good enough to place among the top 12 men who go forward to the final.

It also extended his Olympic nightmare.

Four years ago in London, he fouled three times in qualifying and was reminded of this on many occasions in recent weeks when quizzed by the media, both domestic and international, about his chances in Rio.

Throwing in the first group, the automatic qualifying distance was 76.50m, a modest target normally for Fajdek but well beyond what he was able to reach on Wednesday.

After an opening foul, almost de rigueur for the Pole in qualifying competitions, he threw 71.33m and then 72.00m; never realistically looking like the athlete who has thrown beyond 80 metres in all except two of his 12 outings this summer.

What will hurt even more was that none of the men in the first qualifying group went forward to the final automatically, the best thrower being Brazil’s Wagner Domingos who reached 74.17m.

Having set four national records this year, including a South American record of 78.63m recently, Domingos could be in contention for a medal.

Poland could still be on the podium despite the absence of Fajdek as world bronze medallist Wojciech Nowicki, throwing in the second group a little later in the morning, led the qualifiers with 77.64m.

However, Nowicki – a friend and training partner of Fajdek – also made life difficult for himself with two relatively modest throws before clinching his place in the final.

The only other automatic qualifier was 40-year-old Belarusian Ivan Tsikan who threw 76.51m with his first effort. In fact, eight qualifiers came from group B and others to go forward from this pool included Tajikistan’s world silver medallist Dilshod Nazarov and defending Olympic champion Krisztian Pars from Hungary.

After Fajdek, the most notable non-qualifiers from the 32-strong field were Czech Republic’s 2013 world bronze medallist Lukas Melich, who was also sixth in London, and Turkey’s 2004 Olympic silver medallist Esref Apak.

Phil Minshull for the IAAF