Swiss Championships Three-Peat

In an interview after the competition.

The Swiss Championships in Basel yesterday were my last chance to set a personal best this season. All went according to plan and I improved my best to 67.90 meters and won my third straight Swiss national title in the process.

The Setting
When I heard that the Swiss Championships were in Basel, I had mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, Basel has a great ring. It is probably the second best in Switzerland after Locarno. But on the other hand, I have never thrown well there before. The cage is outside the stadium and tucked into some trees. It is not spectator friendly and not athlete friendly since the opening is so narrow that it is possible to throw in the middle of the sector and still have your wire hit the cage (as happened to me once during the meet). Together, it feels like you are throwing out of a cave. Plus, my last two meets at Basel have been poorly planned and had the competitors waiting nearly 30 minutes between attempts.

To help get over this, I made a special trip to Basel last week to familiarize myself with the ring. I didn’t throw particularly far in that training session, but the increased familiarity gave me a lot of confidence heading into yesterday’s meet.
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Show Your Support at the Swiss Championships

Today Swiss Athletics posted a preview (in German) of this weekend’s Swiss Championships. The hammer throw was easy for them to predict:

The Swiss title has practically already been awarded. Martin Bingisser is throwing much farther than anyone else in Switzerland.

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Karlstad Introduces Water Hazards to Hammer Throwing

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.
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Spitzen Leichtathletik Luzern Recap

The brand new Luzern athletics stadium with Pilatus in the background.

Thanks to the generosity of meet director and friend Terry McHugh, the hammer throw was added to this year’s Spitzen Leichtathletik Luzern meet on Thursday. This meet is one of my favorites in Switzerland. While its budget is dwarfed in comparison to Switzerland’s two Diamond League meets, it still manages to bring in Olympic champions and world record holders every year. This edition was no exception as I headlined the meet along with Andreas Thorkildsen and Yelena Isinbayeva. Well maybe I was more of a footnote, but I still got to throw at another top meet.

The Setting
The reason I love the Luzern meet is because of the environment. I visited for the first time in 2003 and was struck by the beauty. The stadium sits at the base of Pilatus and the mountain is so close you feel like you can hit it on a good throw. While the stadium is small, it is always packed with fans excited to be close to the stars. In 2003 I happened to find a great shot put competition with John Godina, Resse Hoffa, and a young Christian Cantwell. Watching these stars from just feet away made quite an impression on me as a teenager, especially when Godina invited me to join them for dinner afterwards.

This was my first time competing in the meet and it has still maintained the same charm. The only blip was the weather. After four months of summer, spring has finally arrived in Switzerland.
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A Case Study in Ideal Meet Preparation

I have tried several different pre-meet training plans with Bondarchuk, but I think I finally found the right one this week:

  • T minus 4 Days – Train twice (lifting and throwing each session), work a few hours, and then spend six hours sitting on the train.
  • T minus 3 Days – Train twice (lifting and throwing each session)
  • T minus 2 Days – Train twice (lifting and throwing each session)
  • T minus 1 Day – Train twice (lifting and throwing each session), work seven hours, and get a few lingering aches and pains looked at by Mr. Fix-it.
  • Day of competition – Train in the morning at 6:30 am so that you are able to get to an 8:00 am meeting. After training, work six hours.

This was my preparation for Tuesday night’s competition in Olten. If you can’t sense my sarcasm, it was far from the ideal meet preparation. Read more

Le Tour de Lorraine

The Germans are famous for just combining many words together to make new ones. For instance, the word for hammer throw meet is ‘Hammerwurfmeeting.’ In France, it seems, they have the opposite approach. Rather than making one long word to describe something, they use every word to describe it. To provide an example, here are the names of the two French meets I competed at in the Lorraine region last weekend: ‘Meeting International Lacer du Marteau Mémorial Pierre Hue’ in Amnéville and the ‘Meeting international d’athlétisme Metz Moselle AthléLor’ in nearby Metz.

The throwers in Amneville. Photo by Xavier Muller.

The Setting
I wasn’t planning on competing for a fifth weekend in a row, but since training has been going very well I decided I might as well get in the ring again to see if I could improve my season’s best. I got an invitation to a pair of meets in eastern France, rented a car, and hit the road.
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European Team Championships Recap

The European Team Championships is one of my favorite competitions of the year. Switzerland selects one athlete per event to compete against eleven other countries. Each European country is split among four levels. Switizerland is in the second level competition and travelled to Izmir, Turkey to compete in our group of twelve (no one seemed to mind that Izmir was technically located in Asia). Our goal was to maintain our position and after the first day of competition we are well positioned to do just that.

The Setting
The European Team Championships is always one of the highlights of my calendar. Not only do I get a chance to compete against some of the best throwing countries (Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia, etc.), but I get a chance to put on the Swiss uniform. For four days, all of the nation’s best athletes spend time together, cheer for each other, and hang out with each other. It reminds me of the annual UW/WSU dual meet I competed in at the University of Washington, just on an ever bigger scale and including free access to massage for the entire weekend.
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The Greatest Little Meeting in the World

You know a meet is great when you throw badly and still enjoy it. That is how I’ve felt after competing at the Sparkassen Fränkisch-Crumbach Hammermeeting the past two years. After returning to the meet this year I can tell you it feels even better when you walk away with a great result.

The top 10 finishers in the men's hammer throw.

The Setting
I have a great sense of direction, but I’ve been to Fränkisch-Crumbach three times and I still don’t know exactly where it is. In general terms, the town of 3,000 people lies about an hour south of Frankfurt. But the great American invention of straight roads have yet to arrive to the area so I end up taking a new route each time. When you finally arrive, you feel like you’ve set foot in hammer throwing mecca.
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Swiss Club Championships Recap

I woke up at 5:30 on Saturday to travel to Geneva. Thanks to Runnerspace, I was able to start the day off on the right foot despite the hour as I watched Mo Farah run an exciting European Record during breakfast. Then I headed out to Geneva for the Swiss Club Championships. 18 hours later I returned to Zürich.

The Setting
The Swiss Club Championships are one of my favorite competitions of the year. Since my club’s hammer throwing group trains at a different location, I only get to know the fellow throwers and the athletes that are good enough to travel with the national team. The Swiss Club Championships is an opportunity for me to get to know everyone else. It also reminds me a lot of the old UW-WSU dual meets I competed at in college. Everyone chips starts to do multiple events so that the team can score as many points as possible. It is a great concept that all of the clubs here take very seriously.
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Forbach Recap

Last Sunday I travelled up to France to compete in the small border town of Forbach for the Meeting Internationale de Forbach. Here is a quick recap of how it all played out.

The Setting
Tucked behind a hill and castle overlooking the city, the stadium was small but very intimate. Fans filled the stands and enjoyed the warm and sunny weather. Plus, we were able to throw both in the stadium and during the main portion of the meet. This is unheard of in the hammer throwing world. The meet was televised and they introduced us using the Fox Sunday Football theme music.
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