Anita Wlodarczyk is unquestionably the greatest female hammer thrower in history and one of the most dominant athletes in history but her desire to challenge for more major honours remains undimmed.
Now 34 and on the comeback from knee surgery which forced her to miss the World Championships in Doha, Wlodarczyk is planning to prolong her esteemed career for at least one more season in a bid to win her third Olympic title in the hammer - a feat only achieved by John Flanagan who won the first three Olympic titles between 1900 and 1908. Only in 2000 was the women’s hammer added to the Olympic programme.
Wlodarczyk’s first Olympic title in 2012 was achieved retroactively after Russia’s Tatyana Beloborodova failed a retest but the Pole stood atop the rostrum in Rio de Janeiro four years later after smashing her world record with 82.29m. The Pole had two further efforts which landed over the 80 metre-line, a feat which is still yet to be achieved by any other female hammer thrower.
“Two years ago I planned to finish after Tokyo. Then I underwent surgery so I decided that I would fight until 2021, maybe 2022. This is my plan, and we'll see what comes out of it,” Wlodarczyk told Przeglad Sportowy in a recent interview.
Restrictions for elite athletes in Poland are in the process of being lifted but Wlodarczyk isn’t quite at the stage of her recovery where she can take to the throwing circle just yet. She is however following a rigorous rehabilitation programme as well as making good use of stationary gym equipment to rekindle her fitness ahead of her prospective comeback.
“Every day I cycle on a stationary bike. By the way, I explore the world because I can set the route and see it on the screen. Recently, I drove around the Basilica in Barcelona. In addition, I have rehabilitation four times a week since my knee surgery, plus elements of strength training. I often use a rowing machine. You can warm up well and improve performance, just like on a bicycle,” she said.
Without any major international competitions to aim for this summer, Wlodarczyk doesn’t feel under any pressure to rush back. As well as embarking on her rehabilitation, Wlodarczyk is making the most of her downtime by cooking, baking and reading not only for herself but also to children at an oncology hospital via the internet.
The athletics landscape will look very different this summer due to the COVID-19 pandemic but Wlodarczyk hasn’t ruled out competing later this season if she feels in competitive shape and if there is something resembling a competitive season to aim for.
“I would like to appear somewhere but if I throw 65 metres I'm not going to compete; and training to compete only once this season is pointless. I am focusing on getting one hundred percent healthy; I'm not thinking about competitions yet,” she said.
Anita Wlodarczyk’s career achievements
1st - 2009 World Championships
3rd - 2010 European Championships
1st - 2012 European Championships
1st - 2012 Olympic Games
1st - 2013 World Championships
1st - 2014 European Championships
1st - 2015 World Championships
1st - 2016 European Championships
1st - 2016 Olympic Games
1st - 2017 World Championships
1st - 2018 European Championships
Anita Wlodarczyk’s seven 80 metre-plus competitions
82.98m - Warsaw 28 August 2016
82.87m - Cetniewo 27 July 2017
82.29m - Rio de Janeiro (Olympics) 15 August 2016
81.08m - Cetniewo 1 August 2015
80.85m - Beijing (World Championships) 27 August 2017
80.79m - Bialystok 23 July 2015
80.26m - Cetniewo 12 July 2016