VINCZE SZABOLCS (Eugene) 2022.07.18 22:02 Frissítve: 2022.07.18 22:02

World Athletics Championships: A huge mental barrier broke in me – Bence Halász

For the first time ever, hammer thrower Bence Halász threw over 80 meters finishing fifth in the incredibly strong field at the World Championships in Oregon. However, he and his coach believe that if it wasn't for the forced break after the third round, he could have done even better.

At the World Championships, Bence Halász finally threw the hammer further than 80 meters (Photo: AFP)

Before the World Championships, hammer thrower Bence Halász told Nemzeti Sport that if he had only finished sixth in Eugene, but had finally thrown over 80 meters, he would have come home satisfied. Almost everything turned out exactly as he said, with the difference that he finished fifth and that he was not completely satisfied with his performance afterwards.

"I know I said that before I traveled to the competition, but I wasn't satisfied with myself," Halász, who threw a personal best of 80.15 meters in the third round, told us in the mixed zone at Hayward Field. “I don't feel like talking about technique so soon after a competition, I felt like my throw wasn't bad, but there was a lot left in it and if everything had gone right, I could have done better. Of course, I'm happy, but I also feel I had more in me."

Not only he but all competitors were disturbed having to wait more than 20 minutes after the third round due to an appeal, as evidenced by the fact that only American Rudy Winkler improved eight centimeters in the last three rounds. However, that didn't change anything, and he finished sixth in front of his home crowd. It's worth thinking about what would have happened in the second half of the final had it not been for the forced break, as the competition was incredibly close, with five athletes throwing over 80 meters. The last time the field was this strong was in 2007 at the World Championships in Osaka; seven of them went over the magic mark, including the two Belarusian doping kings Ivan Tikhon and Vadim Devyatovskiy, but no one else had done more damage in this discipline.

"I tried to push myself all the time, I was struggling, but I didn't mind that I was getting a bit tired. I must admit that when I finally broke the 80m barrier, I not only let out a roar but also shed a tear, a huge mental barrier broke in me. When I think about how hard the last few years have been, this is a very good result," said the 24-year-old competitor of Dobó SE, who is the ninth Hungarian hammer thrower since 1988 to throw the 7.26kg hammer over the 80m mark. "Of course, I was nervous, because who wouldn't be nervous before the first throw at a world championship, but I had no cramps. I knew that if I could do it all year when I needed to, I would be fine this time, too. In the final, my first throw was really good, it was over 79 meters even though I actually messed up technically, but I felt so good that I was like, if my first throw wasn't perfect, but it was that long, then go for it, come on, it's going to get better."

In Halász' career, this year is special not only because his eighty-meter throw has put him in a narrow elite at such a young age, but also because after the adversity of the past two years, a knee surgery, he has been fantastic all year. In 2022, he threw four times over 79 meters and eight times over 78 meters, and he has been able to have a balanced series of throws during the competitions. He has made a lot of progress not only technically but also mentally. For example, he was not bothered at all by the fact that although he arrived on Wednesday, his luggage did not arrive until Saturday, so he did not have a change of clothes, and he was accommodated in a dormitory room without air conditioning.

"But at least I don't have a lot of laundry...,” commented Bence Halász, who slept very well the night before the final and traveled back to Hungary with his coach on Sunday. “In the last two years, you can clearly see the progress, I didn't think that I would say to a throw over 80m that it wasn't good, but maybe also due to my perfectionism. I hope my progress doesn't stop, because although we can't work harder than that, technically I have reached a new level, I have found a movement that I can now always incorporate in my throws."

To put Bence Halász's recent performance in context, two facts should be noted. On the one hand, his main goal now is the European Championships in August, where he wants to throw even longer, he arrived in Eugene without acclimatization, while the World Championships was more important for the opponents. On the other hand, while Halász is 24, the Polish Pawel Fajdek and Wojciech Nowicki, who are now ahead of him, are 33, and the Norwegian Eivind Henriksen is 31, and the French Quentin Bigot is 29.

"We had to get in shape before the World Championships, but we built up the whole year's work in order to have everything in place for the European Championships in Munich in August," added Halász, who will be back in training on Tuesday, followed by a week and a half of hard work and fine-tuning. In the meantime, there will be three competitions: the 14th Pál Németh Memorial Day in Szombathely on July 26, the Diamond League in Poland on August 6, and the István Gyulai Memorial in Székesfehérvár on August 8.

Zsolt Németh and Bence Halász arrived in Eugene with optimism, but it turns out they had reason to be optimistic
ONCE A BEARD, NO MORE BEARD
 Bence Halász's coach, Zsolt Németh, vowed to cut off his beard if his athlete broke the eighty meters in which he was so sure that he packed his razor set, and he is probably the happiest to be rid of his facial hair.
"I've been feeling for the past two months that he could break the 80m, and after the qualification, I knew he could do it here," said the trainer. "It's rare for someone to reach that mark so young, hammer throwers tend to ripe at 26 or 27, it's that kind of thing. After Bence's knee surgery last year, we had to adapt our training to the changed situation, which seems to be working. For me, the most important feedback during the year was the stability, which he achieved at a high level and with few bad throws. And what is more important is that he throws longer in competitions than in training. Probably because of the forced break that came at the worst time for him, he didn't have any real standout throws, but overall, we can go home satisfied. We're patient, we'll wait our turn."

 

Translated by Vanda Orosz

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