In Hungary, hammer thrower Bence Halasz will always be remembered for coming through when it counted the most.
Halasz, one of the country’s few medal hopefuls at the world championships being held in a sparkling new stadium in Budapest, took bronze on home turf with the prime minister watching on one of the country’s most important holidays.
“It’s a wonderful feeling,” Halasz said after his throw of 80.82 meters proved enough to secure third place. “The crowd gave me such strength that I really felt it was coming from beyond me, that it wasn’t even inside myself.”
The 26-year-old Halasz came into the worlds ranked fourth. His first throw was good for the lead through most of the hot, humid evening. Every time he stepped into the circle, chants of “Ria - Ria -Hungaria!” rained down. It’s a common chant during international sports events, one made even more meaningful on the anniversary of Hungary’s founding.
Not until the fifth of six rounds did someone beat Halasz’s throw. Canadian Ethan Katzberg’s 81.25 meters set a national record and ultimately carried him through to the gold. Poland’s Olympic gold medalist, Wojciech Nowicki, finished second with a throw of 81.02.
But as far as the Hungarian fans in the 35,000-seat stadium were concerned, Halasz, now a three-time bronze medalist in the championships, was the day’s big winner. Stony-faced after his first throw — his best of the season — he gave in to the excitement and ran to the stands for handshakes with his trainers.
Five-time world champion Paweł Fajdek, Nowicki’s Polish teammate, kept the competition tight in the final with a season-best throw of 80 meters flat. But three faults and two sub-78 meter throws kept him short of matching pole vaulter Sergey Bubka’s record of six individual world titles in the same discipline.
With bronze secured, Halasz said he now wants to spend time with his family, who were in the stands cheering him on.
“I’d like to say that I’m sorry I didn’t look at them,” he said, “I didn’t want to make myself nervous.”
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