USA Discus Debacle: Breaking Down the BS

Over the last month or so I have been steadily trianing hard and working to become better. Between training sessions and at night when I am putting my son to bed, I do alot of thinking, dreaming and breaking down of BS. I have been approached by people about the state of the discus throw in the USA and the state of our other throwing events. Once upon I time, I also read the forums and got into the net chat about these topics. What I have to say may enlighten, offend, bring joy to or infuriate readers. It’s ok though, I have handled worse. This is my take, part I of the USA Discus Debacle.

After observing the discus throw globally in 2011 (for the sake of this section, just the men) you see some major discrepancies in season best performances and outcomes at major championships. For many years now “we” the American throwers have been accused of throwing big distances in the USA in “wind” and not being able to replicate them in major championships. This statement is mostly true but can also be used to represent the majority of throwers world wide. I have been in conversations with people about how “the Germans” or “the Europeans” are so great at throwing in stadiums with no wind. Well those statements are far from true! If we analyze the data yearly, you can see that many times there are athletes from a variety of countries that don’t perform remotely near SB’s at major meets. In 2011 I was the 28th farthest throwing discus thrower in the World at 65.30m but was the 10th finisher in the World final at 63.20m? For example, let’s take the top 10 from this past season’s IAAF list and compare how they did at the World Championships in 2011?

  1. Zoltan Kovago SB 69.50m, WCH 2011 62.16m (15th qual)
  2. Robert Harting SB 68.99m, WCH 2011 68.97 (Gold medalist)
  3. Jarred Rome SB 68.76m, WCH 2011 62.22m (14th qual)
  4. Piotr Malachowski SB 68.49, WCH 2011 63.37m (9th final)
  5. Gerd Kanter SB 67.99, WCH 2011 66.95m (2nd final)
  6. Mario Pestano SB 67.97m, WCH 2011 63.00m (11th final)
  7. Virgilijus Alekna SB 67.90m, WCH 2011 64.09m (6th final)
  8. Rutger Smith SB 67.77m, WCH 2011 62.12m ( 16th qual)
  9. Lawrence Okoye SB 67.63m, WCH 2011 DNC
  10. Martin Wierig SB 67.21m,  WCH 2011 61.68 (19th qual)

As you can see, 5 of the throwers with one of the top 10 distances in 2011 didn’t make it out of the qualifying round, and one didn’t compete in Daegu. If we go deeper into the top 20 distances you can see even more failure to perform near SB levels. By the way, I am not by any means attempting to show who sucks but am trying to show that very few throwers can throw within 3m of their season best in a major championship. I watched my teammate Jarred Rome throw his pr in Chula Vista and also watched him throw over 65m windless in training many times in Daegu. I watched my friend Zoltan Kovago, throw 67.5m on his 2nd qualifying throw and foul in Daegu. I watched another great thrower, Frank Casanas who has thrown 66m+ in the Olympics pull out due to injury just before walking into the stadium. Very few throwers have ever thrown over 68m in a Olympic games or world championships. I can think of 9 that have done it legally. Also, the farthest distance that has ever been needed to qualify to the top 12 of a World or Olympic is less than 63m! So, after looking at the stats, many European athletes under performed based on the stats as well as others. And if you base this under preforming just on wind, we see a discrepancy in that all of the top 10 throwers by distance in 2011 threw their SB’s in their home countries and/or training bases, except for Gerd Kanter who’s SB was set in Poland, which is not too far from his training base. This subject will be part of my next post but the idea that just us Americans throw far in wind or wherever and can’t perform, is not at all related to our nationality but the discus throw in general. BTW, a few athletes had outstanding performances from my point of view, Robert Harting threw very close to his SB at worlds, Ehsan Haddadi threw a new SB to get the bronze medal, Gerd Kanter, was within one meter of his SB for 2nd. Mart Israel and Benn Harradine where both within 2m of their bests and Vikas Gowda who lives and train in the USA, threw less than a meter from his SB. Funny enough his SB was at Chula Vista, California and has thrown windy many times but throws very well in big meets compared to most others. Next time I will talk more about THE HOME PHENOMENON in part II! See you soon and Happy Holidays!

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *