Konrad Bukowiecki capped the first evening of the IAAF World U20 Championships Bydgoszcz 2016 by shattering the world U20 record* in the third round of the shot put final.
Bukowiecki started as the overwhelming favourite to retain his title but the Pole was put under some pressure in the first half of the final. He opened with 22.46m but Romania’s Andrei Toader – who has also been excelling in senior competition this summer – proved a worthy competitor as he threw beyond the 22-metre line for the first time in his career with 22.30m in round two.
But perhaps that was the push Bukowiecki needed to surpass the record – a record which he has looked likely to break all season – in the third round.
Bukowiecki said in yesterday’s press conference he was “a little angry” to miss out on the medals by one centimetre at the European Championships in Amsterdam, yet with a sparse but vocal crowd behind him, a pumped up Bukowiecki shattered Jacko Gill’s world U20 record of 23.00m by a sizeable 34 centimetres.
His fourth-round throw was even some way in excess of his record put but Bukowiecki fell out of the front of the circle and the red flag was raised.
"Now I'm really glad because I've broken the world U20 record and defended my world U20 title," said Bukowiecki. "I have cried after a competition for the first time because of happiness."
Behind Bukowiecki, Toader became just the fourth thrower in history to surpass the 22-metre line with the U20 6kg implement while bronze medallist Bronson Osborn from the United States also inched into the world U20 all-time top 10 with his third-round throw of 21.27m.
But for the winner, the celebrations will have to be put on hold. Later this week he will take part in the discus, an event in which he is the fourth-best entrant and could add to his burgeoning medal collection.
And after that, it is off to Rio where the 19-year-old will be looking to reach his third senior final of the season.
Steven Mills for the IAAF
*Subject to the usual ratification procedures