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HMMR Podcast Episode 195: The champion’s mind (with Adam Nelson and Szymon Ziolkowski)

We watch champion’s win all the time, but rarely do we get a chance to see what is going on inside their head. On this week’s episode we get to talk to two Olympic champions and see what their thought process is in competition, how they prepare, and how they’ve overcome some of the most difficult situations imaginable in sport. Tune in to hear shot putter Adam Nelson and hammer throw Szymon Ziolkowski share their experiences. Read more

How to fall on your ass and get up to win gold

Imagine this: you are an up and coming 24-year-old hammer thrower ranked in the world’s top 10. You arrived at the Olympics in the best shape of your life, having qualified in fourth position and been on the podium in every meet except one that year. As you leave the call room in the depths of the stadium and emerge onto the track you’re greeted by more than 110,000 fans and also by torrential downpour. The throwing rings has quickly turned into a slippery lake. Read more

HMMR Podcast Episode 122: The Polish Secret (with Szymon Ziolkowski)

Szymon Ziolkowski is one of the most successful throwers in history. Despite competing in one of the most competitive times in history, he maintained an international level for nearly 20 years, spanning from the 1996 Olympics to the 2014 European Championships, capturing multiple World and Olympic titles in between. He joins us on this week’s episode to discuss how Poland has become so dominant in the throwing events, what he learned from decades at the top of the sport, and what he did in training to help keep him there. Read more

Never Let Go

In the call room before the European championships qualifying round last week an official was trying to find out if he needed to change the cage setup for anyone and asked “Are any of you left handed or is everyone normal?” Szymon Ziolkowski responded “I’m not left handed, but I don’t know if I’m normal either. This season I decided to continue to train after 26 years of throwing the hammer.”
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2014 European Championships Preview: Men’s Hammer Throw

The women’s lineup I previewed on Monday looks much the same as it did two years ago and today’s qualification showed the same players will be fighting it out. The men’s competition, on the other hand, features a fresh crop of athletes mixed in with some old familiar veterans. Highlighting it all will be a matchup I listed as the number one reason to watch the hammer in 2014: Pars vs. Fajdek. The Olympic champion Krisztian Pars will be making his fourth European Championship start while young 25-year old World Champion Pawel Fajdek will be making his debut. What looked like a great rivalry at the start of the season has only gotten better throughout the year.

→ Related Content: check out our analysis of what it will take to reach the finals in Zurich.

The Favorites

Krisztian Pars (HUN)
Season Best/Personal Best: 82.49m (1st), Last EC/Best Finish: 1st

They may be smiling now, but come Saturday it will be all business.

The may be smiling now, but come Saturday it will be all business.

Unlike the top sprinters, Pars and Fajdek are not afraid to face each other. They have already faced each other seven times this year and so far Pars has the upper hand with four wins and a better season’s best. However when you look closer you see it is a toss up. The average margin of victory was just 70 centimeters. In their last matchup two weeks ago Fajdek won by just 10 centimeters. And their season’s bests are just 12 centimeters apart. You couldn’t ask for a better storyline and rivalry. I can’t wait. Qualification takes place on Friday with the top 12 moving on to Saturday’s finals. A live stream for the hammer will be available online in certain countries from Eurovision.

Pawel Fajdek (POL)
Season Best/Personal Best: 82.37m (2nd), Last EC/Best Finish: First Appearance

As said above, Pars might have the slight advantage when looking at the season so far, but Fajdek showed last year that this does not mean much. Heading into the World Championships Pars was the clear number one. But Fajdek unleashed a personal best to win convincingly. He’ll be looking find that type of peak again for another major title.

The Contenders

Marcel Lomnicky (SVK)
Season Best/Personal Best: 79.16m (3rd), Last EC/Best Finish: 11th

Libor Charfreitag, the champion from four years ago, will not be starting at this year’s edition. However Slovakia has another shot at a medal with young Marcel Lomnicky. Lomnicky has consistently improved since graduating from Virginia Tech and now finds himself in good position for his first international medal. Compared to his competitors his advantage is that he has thrown 77 to 79 meters at nearly every meet this year and finished on the podium at several IAAF Hammer Challenge events. Only once in eleven competitions has he been beaten by more than two Europeans this year.

Primoz Kozmus (SLO)
Season Best/Personal Best: 77.44m (8th), Last EC: Did not compete, Best Finish: 6th (2006)

As former World and Olympic champion, it surprising that Kozmus has never placed higher than sixth at the European Championship. But it has actually been eight years since he last competed. Kozmus has a very slow start to the season and competed sparingly, but is slowly finding form and threw 77.44 meters late in July. With his competitive experience and history of peaking at the right time, he is the biggest threat to Lomnicky’s medal chances.

Pavel Kryvitski (BLR)
Season Best: 79.21m (3rd), Personal Best: 80.67m, Last EC/Best Finish: 9th

Kryvitski is the top ranked Belorussian this year, but has faced trouble in qualification rounds at past major championships. But his last few international meets this year have produced 75 to 77 meter results, which would put him in a good position if replicated in Zurich.

Sergey Litvinov Jr. (RUS)
Season Best/Personal Best: 78.77m (5th), Last EC/Best Finish: First Appearance

Always a threat, Litvinov seemed to be on the right path with some great spring marks and superb wins at Fränkisch-Crumbach and the European Team Championships in June. But since that he has been a few meters down, and could be be a few meters less than required for a medal.

Serghei Marghiev (MDA)
Season Best/Personal Best: 78.27m (6th), Last EC/Best Finish: First Appearance

The youngest thrower in the field is also one of the biggest wildcards. Having just turned 22 this summer, Marghiev seems to have reached a new level. When he threw a personal best of 78 meters in Chi?in?u this spring, I didn’t think much of it. His top six marks all came from the Moldovan capital and his best mark outside the country was five meters less. But back to back wins over 76 meters at the European Team Championships lower division and Balkan Championships show he is now an international threat too.

Others to Watch

At age 41, Vizzoni is still a perennial finalist. He is also running for a spot on the European Athletics Athletes' Commission.

At age 41, Vizzoni is still a perennial finalist. He is also running for a spot on the European Athletics Athletes’ Commission.

The rest of the field is quite bunched together and should be packed around 72 to 75 meters in qualifying, which is right around where the historic cut off to make finals is. This should make for an exciting qualification Thursday morning.

While many of the throwers I mentioned above have little European Championships experience, the opposite is the case for 41 year old Nicola Vizzoni of Italy and 38 year old Szymon Ziolkowski of Poland. Both will be competing at their sixth championship and both bring experience: Vizzoni won silver in 2010 and Ziolkowski bronze in 2012. While they may no longer be battling for the podium, their consistency and experience should earn them another spot in the finals.

Another name to look for further down the results is mine, Martin Bingisser. In case you haven’t been following this site, I will be making my major championships debut. Finals will require a whole new level, but a personal best and top 20 finish is a definite possibility.

→ Continue the Conversation: Share your thoughts on the men’s hammer in the Throwholics forum.

→ Related Content: in-depth European Championships historical statistics from Track and Field News and Ken Nakamura.

Ask Martin Vol. 18: Throwing Volume

Question: What are people’s thoughts on the number of throws per year? I have heard that Dr. Bondarchuk’s throwers do 25 throws in the morning and 25 in the afternoon, 5 days a week. That’s 12,000 throws a year. Just wondering what people think? – Anon3764 from the Macthrowvideo chatroom

I have to summon the inner lawyer in me and answer this question unequivocally by saying “it depends.” Like every other element of training, the number of throws you take should be individualized to the needs of each thrower. What works for one athlete is not necessarily the best for another athlete. Athletes have different levels of fitness, maturity, time, and strength. Other variables like the weather even come into play. All of these factors affect how much throwing a person should do. But, that being said, there are still a few principles I would recommend to every thrower.
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