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IAAF Launches Hammer Throw Challenge

Today some more news has emerged about the hammer throw for next season.  As I’ve discussed before, the hammer throw is the one event not included in the new IAAF Diamond League that begins next season.  Instead, the hammer throw will be included at several second tier competitions, with the highest point winner at the competitions to receive an additional prize. Regulations have been drafted and more details will be available soon.

Why the hammer throw is excluded from the Diamond League

With this new announcement, it is final that the new IAAF Diamond League will not include the hammer throw.

With this new announcement, it is final that the new IAAF Diamond League will not include the hammer throw.

The problem apparently is that not all the Diamond League facilities are adequate enough to host the hammer throw.  For instance, the Monaco facility is built above a parking garage, thus creating a potential problem for the high impact event.  Each event in the Diamond League will stage 16 events every year on a rotational basis.  So, for instance, if the Monaco facility stages the high jump and long jump one year, it will then stage the pole vault and triple jump the next year.  Since not every facility can host the hammer throw and the hammer throw would have been the odd seventeenth event, it created an issue for the rotating event system they have set up by throwing off its equilibrium.  The only way to resolve the issue would have been to have certain meetings host the hammer every year instead of rotating, and apparently that was not an acceptable solution.

Last minute lobbying

While the decision to exclude the hammer throw was announced last spring, several efforts have been made to reverse the decision. Some of the world’s top hammer throwers, including Olympic Champ Primoz Kozmus, began circulating a petition at the World Athletics Final for for the hammer throw to be included in the Diamond League.  Some top athletes such as Usain Bolt, Asafa Powell, and Yelena Isinbayeva signed on.  The effort was continued by Kozmus’s agent after Kozmus announced his unexpected retirement last month.  However, the movement was likely too late to have an impact.

New Grand Prix structure

The current Golden League and Grand Prix circuits will be replaced next season with a new structure.  The top competitions will form the Diamond League, where points are accumulated at each competition and the top point winner in each event at the end of the season will receive a 4 carat diamond. The second tier competitions will form the IAAF World Challenge.  Just today, the IAAF announced that the Challenge League will include 13 competitions on four continents.  Additional details about the World Challenge League are forthcoming.

New Hammer Throw Challenge structure

The hammer throw will be included in at least six competitions, mainly those in the World Challenge Meetings.  Presumably, points will be accumulated at these meetings and athletes will vie for a season ending prize.  This is similar to the structure of the current IAAF Combined Events Challenge and IAAF Race Walking Challenge.  The IAAF has not announced the structure of prize money or which meetings will be included in the Hammer Throw Challenge.  However, several World Challenge League competitions have been proud supporters of the hammer throw in the past and will likely continue to host the event as part of the Hammer Throw Challenge (e.g. Ostrava, Zagreb, Osaka, etc.).  It is also possible that some of the competitions will be hammer only, similar to how the combined events and race walking challenges are held.

Impact on the hammer throw

This latest news is big blow to the hammer throw.  The hammer throw has never been a premier event, but this decision will only ensure that the event’s status will not change.  Not only will the hammer throw be excluded from the world’s top one-day meetings, but now it looks like it will not even have normal event status in the World Challenge League.  In all likelihood, the Hammer Throw Challenge will be comprised of competitions that already included the hammer throw, thus not providing any additional competitions for elite hammer throwers.  Furthermore, hammer throwers likely won’t have the chance to earn any additional prize money since the Hammer Throw Challenge jackpot likely will be similar to what was offered at the discontinued World Athletics Final.  The only upside is that in addition to the 16 regular events, each Diamond League Competition will apparently be allowed to host “National Events” which feature mainly competitors from that country.  This regulation may provide a way for the hammer throw to sneak its way into a few Diamond League events next year, although likely as a pre-program event.

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Diamond League Plans to Exclude Hammer Throwers

The world’s largest one-day meetings will undergo a huge reorganization next year. Currently, the top professional circuit is the Golden League, a six meeting series offering winners of certain events at all meetings a share of a $1,000,000 jackpot. The Golden League will be disbanded next season and replaced with the Diamond League, a larger, more international circuit of 14 meetings in Europe, America and Asia. Each meeting will have prize money of $416,000 and all 32 disciplines will have the same prize money. In addition, points can be accumulated at each meeting throughout the season. The athlete with the most points at the end of the series will be awarded a 4 carat diamond (worth approximately $80,000).
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