World hammer record-holder Anita Wlodarczyk from Poland is due to return to competition at the European Throwing Cup in Split, Croatia on 8-9 May.
This will be Wlodarczyk’s first competition since June 2019 and it seems an appropriate competition and venue for the greatest female hammer thrower in history to launch her comeback on the road to a possible third successive Olympic title in Tokyo.
Now 35, Wlodarczyk came to wider prominence when Split staged the European Throwing Cup in 2008. She handed the then-world champion Betty Heidler from Germany a surprise defeat on that occasion, throwing 71.84m to the German’s 71.10m.
The following year, Wlodarczyk defeated Heidler again with a still-standing championship record of 75.05m to eclipse the previous mark held by her compatriot and good friend, the late Kamila Skolimowska.
Wlodarczyk went on to win her first world title later in the 2009 season in Berlin ahead of Heidler again where she set her first of six world records with 77.96m. The last of those records came shortly after the 2016 Olympics when she threw an incredible 82.98m on home soil in Warsaw.
Wlodarczyk successfully defended her world title in 2017 and won her fourth consecutive European gold medal in Berlin in 2018 but she has been largely absent from competition since then after undergoing knee surgery in mid-2019.
The postponement of the Tokyo Olympics due to the coronavirus has played to Wlodarczyk’s advantage and without any major international events on the calendar last summer, Wlodarczyk opted to focus on her rehabilitation and training rather than competition.
In recent months, Wlodarczyk has been on warm weather training camps in Qatar and Turkey and the Pole is greatly looking forward to stepping back into the hammer circle for the first time in almost two years in Split next weekend. She will remain in Turkey until 5 May before travelling to Split where her Olympic campaign will begin in earnest.
“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,” said Wlodarczyk.
On her comeback in Split, Wlodarczyk is due to face France's Alexandra Tavernier, the silver medallist behind Wlodarczyk at the 2018 European Championships in Berlin. The Frenchwoman has already been in excellent form in the hammer ring, improving her national record to 75.38m at her national winter championships.
Final entry-lists for the European Throwing Cup in Split will be published at the end of the week and live streaming details will also be announced closer to the time of the event.