The Diamond League’s Make-Believe Infrastructure Problems

A few small divots shouldn't stop the hammer throw from being in the Diamond League, especially when the stadiums have hosted the hammer so many times before.

A few small divots shouldn’t stop the hammer throw from being in the Diamond League, especially when the stadiums have hosted the hammer so many times before.

Two weeks ago the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene proved once again that, despite the fears of meet directors, the hammer throw can be included in the Diamond League without any problems. The Prefontaine Classic has regularly hosted the hammer throw, and this year the event also became an official stop of the IAAF Hammer Challenge, making it the first Diamond League meet to join the IAAF Hammer Challenge circuit. Unlike other track and field events, which are included in at least half of the Diamond League meets and are eligible for the season ending jackpot, the hammer throw has been excluded from the sport’s premier circuit. While the prize money offered to hammer throwers at the Prefontaine Classic still falls behind the other events, just being included in a Diamond League meet is a sign of progress for an event that is often been denied a seat at the table.

But all this just begs the question why the Prefontaine Classic the only one of the 14 Diamond League Meets to hold the hammer throw. The same thought crossed my mind on Saturday as I threw the hammer at a competition in the Stade Olympique de la Pontaise in Lausanne. If we could throw hammer then, why can’t we throw in July when the Diamond League comes to Lausanne? The Diamond League has cited “infrastructure” as the problem and Weltklasse Zurich meet director Patrick Magyar elaborated on that last year to say that the Diamond League stadiums just cannot handle the hammer throw. The damage to the grass is supposedly too much, and the cages required are too big.

Unfortunately the Diamond League officials have jaded memories. It is not just Eugene and Lausanne that are capable of hosting the hammer; almost every Diamond League stadium has held the hammer throw in the past decade. Below I compiled a quick history of the hammer throw at each Diamond League meet and Diamond League stadium. Of the fourteen meets, twelve have a strong hammer throwing history. It is time to get past the excuses and look at the facts: the hammer throw could be successfully included in the Diamond League and such an exciting event would add a lot to each meet.

Doha (QAT) – The first meet in the Diamond League series included the hammer throw in 2009 just before joining the Diamond League.

Shanghai (CHN) – This meet and stadium are among the youngest in the Diamond League and due to my lack of Chinese language capabilities I have not found any records of meets at the stadium that included the hammer throw.

New York (USA) – Both US Diamond League meets have been supporters of the hammer throw in the past. The New York meet is the newest of the two, but held the hammer throw multiple times before joining the Diamond League. The most recent time was in 2008.

Eugene (USA) – Meet director Tom Jordan and the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene have been by far the strongest supporters of the hammer throw among the Diamond League family. The meet has included the women’s hammer throw in 5 of the last 6 season. That includes 3 times since the meet has joined the Diamond League. This means it has the distinction of being the only Diamond League meet to have included the hammer throw in the program, and this season it is the first Diamond League meet to become associated with the IAAF Hammer Challenge.

Rome (ITA) – The Rome venue has hosted the hammer throw numerous times, and even the Golden Gala has a history of hosting good hammer throw competitions. The meet record is 84.88 meters held by Sergey Litvinov. Igor Astapkovich has a long history of success here, with wins in 1993, 1994, 1995 and also 2002.

Oslo (NOR) – The Bislett Games Diamond League meet has not included the event recently, but Jüri Tamm still holds the meet record and he told me it was one of his fondest memories when I interviewed him this winter. The stadium, on the other hand, is fully capable of hosting the hammer throw and has done so as recently as the Norway Games in August 2012.

Birmingham (GBR) – While the meet has never held the hammer, the venue has included it in many meets including last year’s UK Olympic Trials held in Birmingham.

Lausanne (SUI) – Igor Nikulin set his personal best at the meet in 1990 with a throw of 84.48 meters to beat both Litvinov and Sedykh. The meet hosted the hammer throw five times throughout the 1990s. The hammer throw was held in the stadium at the recent Swiss Club Championships this month.

Paris (FRA) – This meet held the hammer throw three times between 1998 and 2004, but has not included it in its program since then. The stadium has also held the hammer throw at other competitions like the 2003 World Championships.

Monaco (MON) – No record of having the hammer throw held at this stadium since it was renovated in 1985.

The London Olympic Stadium is just one of the Diamond League venues capable of hosting the hammer throw.

The London Olympic Stadium is just one of the Diamond League venues capable of hosting the hammer throw.

London (GBR) – This meet will be moved to a new venue in 2013: the London Olympic Stadium. There shouldn’t be any problems for hosting the hammer here since it successfully held the event in the biggest meet in the world last summer.

Stockholm (SWE) – The Stockholm Olympic stadium has hosted many hammer throw competitions. The most recent high profile meet was the 2011 European Team Championships.

Zurich (SUI) – Like other Diamond League meets Weltklasse Zürich has had many good hammer throw competitions in history including a meet record of 83.24 meters from Olympic champion Andrey Abduvaliyev in 1994. However, it has not included the hammer throw since the stadium was renovated in 2008. In fact no hammer competitions have been held there since then, but the hammer will be thrown in the stadium at next summer’s European Championships. The grass heating system has even been installed deeper than normal in order to facilitate throwing on the grass.

Brussels (BEL) – American Lance Deal holds the meet record from 1996 when he threw 82.26 meters just after the King Baudouin Stadium underwent its last major remodel. This was the last time the meet held the hammer throw and I have not been able to locate records of other meets in the stadium.

If you have additional information to add to the above list, feel free to include it in the comments below.

11 replies

    Of course hammer should be in the big competitions. It is a shame that it isn’t. In many cases it is soccer that prevends this. Always comes soccer first, even with our athletics directors. Why should throwers be regarded as inferior? Real athletic enthousiast enjoy the throwing events. Officials and meetig-directors should also.

    • Martin
      Martin says:

      I really wish it were that simple Paul. But what I’m trying to show is that you can’t even blame soccer. We were allowed to throw in Lausanne’s stadium last week, even though it also the home stadium of one of the team’s in Switzerland’s top soccer league. Bislett Stadium, home of tonight’s Diamond League meet in Oslo, doesn’t even have a soccer team that calls it home. My point is that if these stadiums do not have soccer, or have soccer and allow hammer at smaller meets, then why are they using that as an excuse to keep the hammer out of the Diamond League.

  2. Bortoluzzi Jerome
    Bortoluzzi Jerome says:

    Once again Martin, thank you ! you made a great case and i wish some IAAF offcial would read your post.

    I am sure most of the best hammer thrower would agree with you because we have talked about it many time and they told me the exact same thing.

    Hopefully one day it will happen.

    thank you again


  3. David
    David says:

    All events should be included when safe .
    The example of the Pre Classic is wrong. The hammer competition was held in a venue adjacent to the stadium.

    • Martin
      Martin says:

      The Diamond League officials have never mentioned safety as a concern and with a proper cage and officiating it is a safe event whether held in the stadium or outside of it. Due to the unique layout of the Eugene stadium, there is only about 75 meters to throw in the stadium, therefore it must be held directly adjacent. But other stadiums all can hold it in the stadium and do so safely as is the case at every major championship. At the London Olympics the hammer was held concurrently with the most high profile event (men’s 100m final) and it was without incident. It can be done and should be done.

  4. David
    David says:

    Diamond League Meets are very different then the Olympic Games & World Championships. DL Schedules are more condensed. Plus, some stadiums do not have outside horizontal jumps. The actual danger zone is 2 x the width of a sector. But, yes it can be done in some stadiums.

    • Martin
      Martin says:

      The Diamond League schedule is condensed, but the competitions are also much faster than at a championship. No qualifying rounds are needed, and just a handful of athletes compete. Furthermore it is a bit of a myth that the meets are that compact. Sure, the TV coverage is just two hours, but the meets often last for 4-5 hours. Two Diamond League meets now span 2 days. The Berlin World Challenge meet hosted the discus, hammer, and javelin within a time frame just as compact last year. And, as I’ve pointed out in this post, that fact hasn’t stopped these meets from hosting the hammer in the past. Rome, Zurich, you name it the meet has hosted the hammer before and they should be capable of doing so again.

      As far as the danger zone goes, that is also a bit of a myth. Due to the narrow modern sectors and the large cages, it is actually physically impossible to have a throw land in certain parts of the sector. A sector foul is possible, but if the cage is set up properly it will not lang much outside the sector and top athletes now are not throwing as far as they were 30 years ago in any case. The event has become less dangerous rather than more dangerous, yet meets now exclude it more than ever.

  5. Zach Hazen
    Zach Hazen says:

    Rejecting a bunch of morons’ claims with an irrefutable compendium of evidence? I love it! 🙂 I can only hope this article finds its way to the eyes of a Diamond League manager.


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] As you’ve seen, this statement is utterly false. The IAAF must think that if it repeats the same falsehoods they will become true. The truth is that the prize money is nowhere nearly equal. The truth is that the rewards are not equal, as none of the hammer challenge meets give athletes the chance for global exposure. And the truth is these stadiums can old the hammer as 13 of the 14 Diamond League stadiums have hosted the hammer throw recently. […]

  2. […] to even breach the topic of event discrimination. Instead you get flawed arguments trying to justify our exclusion from the Diamond League and statements that the hammer challenge is just for us. There is no denying that this simple […]

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