Every time Polish athlete Anita Wlodarczyk throws the hammer, she has a reminder right there with her of the friend she lost.
Wlodarczyk broke her own hammer throwing world record to win an Olympic gold medal on Monday and she did it using the old, gray and tattered left glove of former champion and close friend Kamila Skolimowska.
Skolimowska, gold medalist at the 2000 Sydney Games as a teenager and the brightest star of hammer at the time, died in 2009 at the age of 26 after suffering a pulmonary embolism at a Poland team training camp in Portugal.
Since then, Wlodarczyk has competed using her good friend's glove. She's had to repair it a few times but she said she'll use it for the rest of her career.
"I still throw with this glove. I still have memories of her," Wlodarczyk said through a translator. "It was 16 years ago that she won in Sydney and I'm very happy that I continued this tradition."
Wlodarczyk's first Olympic title took a little while, despite the fact that she's been the standard setter in hammer since winning the world title in 2009. She's now set six world records since then.
Her progress was slowed because of her emotional and exuberant celebrations at those worlds in 2009, when she won her first major title a few months after Skolimowska died. Leaping in joy after setting her first career world record at those championships, Wlodarczyk landed awkwardly, broke her ankle, and had to hobble on to the podium in Berlin to collect her gold.
In Rio de Janeiro, she knew her record-smashing third throw of 82.29 meters was also going to be way too much for any of her competitors here. She hasn't learned her lesson when it comes to the celebrating, though.
On a steamy hot day at the Olympic Stadium, and after pouring bottles of cold water over herself to keep cool during the competition, she leaped in joy again. She called it an "explosion of happiness."
Then, she took off around the track holding the Polish flag high over her head. By the time that was all over, she was completely exhausted.
"I couldn't move, especially after the run around the stadium," she said, sitting on a stool after struggling to stand for media interviews. "I'm extremely tired, but I'm very happy I'm in one piece and without any injury."