Gold Medalists Lead Hammer’s Return to Pre Classic

April 11, 2016 0

Prefontaine Classic

The men’s hammer throw returns to the Prefontaine Classic after a hiatus of 11 years in what will be the event’s best collection of talent on U.S. soil since the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta.

The field includes the reigning Olympic and World Championships gold medalists, just part of the top 6 from last year’s world rankings by Track & Field News.  The Hayward Field record of 271-2 (82.65) set by Olympic champ Koji Murofushi in the 2004 Pre Classic could even be challenged, as two throwers have lifetime bests farther than that mark.

Pawel Fajdek, 26, of Poland may be the field’s youngest but he’s also the farthest.  He won his second World Championships gold medal last year in Beijing – his first made him the event’s youngest ever at 23 in the Moscow World Championships.  At 275-4 (83.93), Fajdek is the world’s farthest since 2008 and the youngest to throw this far besides Soviet legend Sergey Litvinov in the 1980s. He finished last season with an amazing 18-meet winning streak.

Krisztian Pars, 34, of Hungary is the reigning Olympic gold medalist.  He has been among the world’s dominant hammer throwers since 2004, when he was only 22 years old.  Pars has been world ranked every year since by T&FN, never lower than No. 5, with four times each at No. 1 and No. 2.  He leads the career head-to-head meetings with Fajdek at 29-16, though Fajdek has won the last eight.

Tajikstan’s Dilshod Nazarov, who will turn 34 on May 6, earned the silver medal in last summer’s World Championships and became his country’s second medalist in any event.  The only other was Andrey Abduvaliyev, who won the 1993 and ’95 World hammers.  Nazarov, who has ranked No. 3 in the world the last two years behind Fajdek and Pars, has won six Asian Championships or Games golds since 2006.

Wojciech Nowicki, 27, of Poland was the bronze medalist in last year’s Beijing World Championships in his first major international meet.  He ranked No. 4 last year in his debut in the T&FN world rankings.  Nowicki has improved every year of his career.

Mostafa Al-Gamal, 27, of Egypt is Africa’s farthest thrower ever at 266-7 (81.27).  He was his continent’s first finalist in this event at last year’s World Championships, finishing 7th.  Al-Gamal’s season-long performances ranked him even higher, No. 4 (2014) and No. 5 (2015) in the world the last two years by T&FN.

Marcel Lomnicky, 28, of the Slovak Republic was NCAA champion for Virginia Tech in 2009.  He has improved steadily each year since, ranking No. 6 in the world the last three years in a row by T&FN.

American Kibwé Johnson, 34, owns the most success at Hayward Field, site of three of his four U.S. titles.  He is the No. 3 thrower in U.S. history behind only Lance Deal and Jud Logan, both American record holders.  Johnson’s best of 263-6 (80.31) puts him in rare company on the all-time Hayward Field list – the three ahead (Murofushi, Deal, and Balasz Kiss) have won Olympic gold or silver.

Men’s Hammer Throw Personal Best

Pawel Fajdek (Poland)   275-4     (83.93)
Krisztian Pars (Hungary)     271-3     (82.69)
Mostafa Al-Gamal (Egypt)            266-7     (81.27)
Dilshod Nazarov (Tajikstan)         264-9     (80.71)
Kibwé Johnson (USA)    263-6     (80.31)
Marcel Lomnicky (Slovak Republic)          259-8     (79.16)
Wojciech Nowicki (Poland)          258-3     (78.71)

Fans can follow the event lineups on eugene.diamondleague.com.  The direct link to current start/entry lists is posted HERE and will include updates to all announced fields.  Additional news, photos, and videos may be found on PreClassic.com, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

Tickets for the 42nd annual edition of the Prefontaine Classic, to be held May 27-28 at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore., are available now at www.GoDucks.com as well as from 1-800-WEBFOOT.

The Prefontaine Classic is the longest-running outdoor invitational track & field meet in America and is part of the elite IAAF Diamond League of meets held worldwide annually.  The Pre Classic’s results score has rated No. 1 or No. 2 in the world in each of the last five years by All-Athletics.com, the official data partner of the Diamond League.  Sponsored by NIKE continuously since 1984, the Prefontaine Classic will be shown live to an international audience and by NBC and NBC Sports Network.

Steve Prefontaine is a legend in the sport of track & field and is the most inspirational distance runner in American history.  He set a national high school 2-mile record (8:41.5) while at Marshfield High School in Coos Bay, Oregon, that is the fastest ever in a National Federation-sanctioned race.  While competing for the University of Oregon, he won national cross country championships (3) and outdoor track 3-Mile/5000-meter championships (4), and never lost a collegiate track race at any distance.  As a collegiate junior, he made the 1972 U.S. Olympic Team and nearly won an Olympic medal, finishing 4th in the 5K at the 1972 Munich Olympics, at age 21.  After finishing college in 1973 and preparing for a return to the Olympics in 1976, he continued to improve, setting many American records.  His life ended tragically on May 30, 1975, the result of an auto accident, at age 24.  The Pre Classic began that year and has been held every year since.

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