Anita Wlodarcyk captured gave us more drama than expected as a finger injury required her to come from behind for the win in yesterday’s women’s hammer final. Now all eyes turn to the men, who begin qualification tomorrow. If you thought the women’s hammer podium was wide open, the men’s will be even more so. There is a long list of contenders, and even more who could rise to the occasion. As Andrisu Gudzius and Mason Finley showed us in the discus on Saturday, all it takes is a personal best to bring someone out of the shadows and onto the podium. Read more
The US Championships kick off on Thursday and a change in venue from Eugene to Sacramento means more sun and less rain. Temperatures are expected to reach over 100 degrees, meaning the weather may be as hot as the action. With two Americans chasing the world record in the shot put and close competitions for the World Championships team in every event, it should be an exciting weekend of throwing. Below we break down each men’s event. Check back tomorrow for a look at the women’s action. Read more
I don’t know if you could ask much more of yetersday’s women’s hammer final. As I predicted it was the Anita show. But she did it in style by breaking 80 meters three times, surpassing her own world record twice, and setting the new mark out an amazing 1.21 meters beyond her old world record. In addition Sophie Hitchon captured the UK’s first medal in the event with a clutch sixth round national record. And two Americans placed in the top eight. Thankfully, that was just the start of the hammer throw action. The men join in on the fun tomorrow. Read more
The dream of every thrower is to be an Olympian, and every four year the top 24 athletes in each event get the chance to fight it out for that opportunity to be one of their event’s three representatives on the world’s best team. In some events, like the men’s shot put, it will be nearly as difficult to make the team as it will be to get on the Olympic podium in Rio. This year the battle goes back to Eugene Oregon from July 1 to 10, and all the throwing events feature great storylines, close competition, and more. Below we break down what to expect in each of the men’s throwing events. Click here for our guide to the women’s throwing events. Read more
The IAAF World Championships kick off on Saturday and the hammer throw will be one of the first events under way. Pawel Fajdek is the clear front runner this year, but the podium will be wide open behind him. Based on how the season has unfolded a throw of 78 meters might make the podium and more than half of the field is capable of that. The odds are strong for veterans like Krisztian Pars to add to his medal collection or Dilshod Nazarov to win his first piece of hardware. But the situation might also present the chance for someone with longer odds like Kibwé Johson or Nick Miller to squeeze on the podium. It will be quite interesting to see how it unfolds. Read more
On Thursday we posted our USATF Championships women’s throw guide. With stars and depth in every event, it will be an exciting meet starting on Thursday. But that is only half of the action. The men will also bring some big names to the table, led as always by a strong group of shot putters. With all the great throwers converging on Eugene we may have to rename the city #throwstownUSA by the time the weekend is over. Below is a in depth look at each of the men’s throwing events taking place at next week’s championship. Read more
Kibwé beat me to the punch in January when he outlined his wishes for the hammer in 2015, but our event is so fun that there is always room for another’s take on it. The month of May is when the season really gets underway, so it’s time for me to count down my annual list of 10 reasons to watch the hammer throw this season. Please share what you are looking forward to in the comments section below. Read more
In a major coup for American track and field, a group led by Vin Lananna won a last minute bid to host the 2016 IAAF world Indoor Championships in Portland. This will be only the second time the US has hosted a world championship, the last time being the 1987 World Indoor Championships in Indianapolis. Nearby Eugene will also host the IAAF World Junior Championships next summer. Both American indoor track meets and the hammer throw have been moved to the sport’s fringes over the past few decades. But the World Indoor Championships in Portland presents a great opportunity to add excitement to the meet and help throwers by introducing a new event to the world scene: the weight throw.
Indoor track and field is a dying sport in America. Some of the best meets in the country used to form the indoor circuit. But the number if meets have dwindled, and even the historic Millrose Games has abandoned the Madison Square Garden for the much smaller Armory. Now most top professionals skip the indoor season, which causes the remaining meets to move even further to the fringes of the average person’s attention.
There are some ideas to give some spark to the sport. The indoor 400-meter hurdles has been gaining popularity due to the added drama and lane changes with banked curves. But adding the weight throw to the meet’s program gives a fresh new event and puts Portland’s unique stamp on the championship. The event is raw: it has athletes hurl a hammer-like object that, at 35-pounds, is more than twice the weight and only 16-inches long. An even heavier version of the weight was an Olympic discipline in the early 20th century, so it is more than ripe for a comeback and no place is better for it than on the soil of the event’s adopted country.
The weight throw has been an American sport since the modern Olympic era began and the whole time throwers across the country have wondered if we are naturally great at the sport, or simply the best because we are the only ones left throwing it. At one time we were clearly the best against the world as we won won 4 of the 6 Olympic medals awarded in the event. Now that the rest of the world retired from the event hammer throw Olympic medalist Lance Deal holds the world record, but he only ranks 24th all-time in the hammer and most of those in front of him never even touched the weight. The technique is basically the same, but the different weight and rhythm can make a big difference. Would he have beaten Yuri Sedykh in the weight throw? Throwers debate whether who would win a matchup of historic hammer throwers with the same intensity that track fans argue who would win between Bolt and Mo Farah over 600 meters.
It’s true that I once wrote an article detailing how the weight throw hurts our sport due to its negative training effect. But an event like this I can support. For once the event could bring some benefits to our sport in the form of publicity. Portland was also the host of the successful Hammer Time event in 2012, where 3,000 fans showed up to watch the hammer throw Olympic Trials at the Nike headquarters. That’s 3,000 fans for just one event. The turnout for the last world indoor championships was only double that. If the weight throw can help our sport, more power to it.
It is likely too late to get the bureaucracy to add the weight as an official event for 2016. But nothing is stopping it from being an exhibition or promotional event. It could even be put in the city center at Waterfront Park. Or a block from Niketown at. Pioneer Square. Or even a parking lot in the trendy Pearl district. All optioned would help promote the event in the days leading up to the world championships similar to how Weltklasse Zurich has used the shot put competition as a teaser for the main event and the Karlstad Grand Prix’s use of the river hammer throw event. With the lack of prize money in most hammer throw events, a small purse could entice the top names to try out the new event in an exhibition. We could finally end the debates, get a niche event some great publicity, and showcase some American talent. Kibwé Johnson ranks as the world’s 4th best weight thrower of all-time before giving it up to focus on the hammer. With an opportunity like this perhaps he’d even make comeback too.
For many American throwers the season will already come to an end at this weekend’s US Championships in Des Moines, Iowa. However, for a select few the competition will also serve as a chance to extend their season through August by qualifying for this year’s World Championships in Moscow, Russia. The men will start the action on Friday afternoon, and the women will follow things up on Saturday afternoon. Below you will find a preview of both competitions, as well as an overview of the World Championships qualifying procedures, and an summary of which athletes have met the international qualifying standards so far this year.