Poland’s Anita Wlodarczyk enjoyed a breakthrough hammer throwing season in 2009, joining, then beating, the world’s elite performers. Wlodarczyk put the hammer throw community on notice by finishing first at the European Winter Throwing Cup in March of 2009. Later in the year she approached Tatyana Lysenko’s world record of 77.80 meters (255 feet, 3 inches) by throwing 77.20/253-3. Wlodarczyk then broke world mark, throwing 77.96/255-9 on her second attempt to win the World Championship in Berlin. For an encore, Wlodarczyk extended her record to 78.30/256-11 at Bydgoszcz on June 6, 2010. Her record was topped by Betty Heidler in 2011.
Wlodarczyk began her career as an indoor track speed cyclist, and was a good one. She helped Poland win a European Junior Team Championship before she left the sport at age 16. She turned to throwing and became a fair discus performer (her personal best is 52.26/171-5 from 2008), in addition to throwing the hammer.
Wlodarczyk has improved her personal best every year since 2005. She topped 70 meters for the first time in 2008, then reached the Olympic final in Beijing and finished sixth. She then took third in the 2008 World Athletics Final.
Few athletes would risk a coaching change just prior to a major meet. But Wlodarczyk not only parted company from former coach Zbigniew Cybulski just three weeks before the 2009 World Championships, but she didn’t replace him immediately, preferring to train on her own. Shortly before the Championships she was spotted in Poznan, throwing under a bridge, instead of a stadium or a standard throwing area. She later selected Krzysztof Kaliszewski as her new coach. Wlodarczyk trains in a group that includes 2000 Olympic champion Szymon Ziolkowski.
Thrower, not a Jumper:
After breaking the world record in Berlin, Wlodarczyk literally jumped for joy, but landed awkwardly on the side of her foot, twisting her ankle. She spent the remainder of the competition with an ice pack on her foot, watching the other throwers battle for second place (except for a token sixth-round toss in which she didn’t spin – the hammer equivalent of a victory lap). She eventually needed surgery to repair the injury, ending her 2009 season.
In addition to the gold medal and the standard winner’s prize of $60,000, Wlodarczyk earned a $100,000 bonus for breaking the world record in 2009. Back home in Poland she received the Knight’s Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta (5th Class), which is conferred for outstanding achievements in the fields of education, science, sport, culture, art, economics, defense of the country, social work, civil service, or for furthering good relations between countries.
- Height: 5 feet, 10 inches
- Weight: 194
- Birth date: August 8, 1985
- Hometown: Rawicz, Poland
- Personal best: 78.30 meters (256 feet, 11 inches)
- World Championships: One