Polish Olympic hammer champion Anita Wlodarczyk underwent surgery for a thigh injury she suffered chasing a thief trying to break into her car. The 5-foot-10, 220-pound three-time Olympic gold medalist took to Instagram to share that she will miss the rest of the season.
“Sometimes fate has other plans. My athletic season is over when I sprinted after the thief I totally ripped my double-headed thigh, the adrenaline was such that I didn’t even feel it. I had a successful operation yesterday, under the supervision of Dr. Robert Śmigielski, who has operated on me five times during my sports career. I know that I am under the excellent medical care of the doctor and his medical team. I have always emerged victorious from every injury and now I believe that it will also be the same I have a lot of rehabilitation work to do. I remember very well what it was like two years before Tokyo, when I had knee surgeries, I went on a long, labor-intensive path to return to the sport, to return to the Olympic podium now I have great motivation to repeat it and in two years to stand on the podium in Paris.”
Wlodarczyk is considered by many to be the greatest women’s thrower of all-time. She currently holds the world record 82.98 meters and was the first woman in history to throw the hammer over 80 meters.
Three-time Olympic Champion in the women's Hammer Throw, Anita Wlodarczyk suffered an injury while chasing a thief that tried unsuccessfully to steal her car.
She'll be out for sometime, hopefully not too long. pic.twitter.com/YJL58jHlTM
— oluwadare (@Track_Gazette) June 10, 2022
She is a four-time World and European champion. Of the top 30 hammer throws all time, Wlodarczyk has 27, including the entire top 15.
The thief was turned over to the police, but no further details are available at this time.
The Paris Games are just about two years away. Wlodarczyk will need to heal completely before she can begin strengthening the leg and then training for the Games.
The hammer throw requires stability, strength and dexterity in the lower body. It will depend on how fast her thigh muscles heal and whether or not they can regain pre-injury levels to get an accurate picture of her medal chances.
But she is the greatest hammer thrower of all time so she has that “heart of a champion” component that is extremely beneficial but hard to accurately measure and/or predict its impact.
If successful in Paris 2024 Wlodarczyk will continue making history becoming the first four-time women’s hammer throw champion in Olympics history. Before then she will be able to see where she stands relative to the rest of the world at the 2023 World Championships in Budapest.
Wlodarczyk has successfully returned to top form from injury before, so she has the template to do so. The variable she cannot control is who is working tirelessly in the shadows to become her next toughest competitor.
In sports every athlete knows there’s always someone lurking around the corner to take aim at the top spot. The best ever fight them off for as long as possible, but eventually someone else will seize it.
A top athlete rarely concedes but is able to accept reality if they can go out on their own terms. No doubt Wlodarczyk’s push for Paris is about setting those terms.