As I wrote last year, the throwing events need to be imaginative and think outside of the box in order to gain in popularity. This is easier with the shot put since it can be hosted anywhere there is a small slab of concrete. The hammer throw can be more difficult since it requires a big cage and ample landing area. Simply put, while they can host the shot put inside Zürich’s main train station, that would never work with the hammer or discus throws.
World discus throw champion Robert Harting is always one to grab headlines and this April he announced that he would love to have a discus throw competition over the Spree river in Berlin. That never materialized, but the Swedes did one better yesterday. As a prelude to today’s Karlstad Grand Prix, the city hosted a hammer throw competition on the banks of the Klarälven river. And by banks, I mean the opposite banks. They installed a hammer throw ring on one side of the river and attempted to throw to the other side. Fans surrounded the cage and lined up on the bridge to watch.
The feedback from the athletes was also good. Sergej Litvinov Jr. loved the format, as did young Norwegian record holder Eivind Henriksen. In all the excitement for the competition, some people actually have overlooked the results which were also good. My friend and former Boise State standout Mattias Jons took home the win for Sweden with a huge throw of 77.54 meters. While I don’t know if the field is considered certified, his three meter personal best still beat out Litvinov and a few other top Russian and Belorussian throwers.
You have to hand it to the Swedish meet directors. The Stockholm DN Galan was one of the first big meets to put the shot put in the city center. Since then, Zürich and other large meets have replicated it. Now Karlstad has added the river hammer throw. Even though Sweden has historically trailed neighboring Finland in the throwing events, it sees them as an opportunity to get publicity for their meets. I can’t wait to see what ideas they try next and for other competitions to follow their lead. For some more great pictures of the event, visit nwt.se and check out the video below.