2013 US Championships Hammer Throw Guide
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.
World Championships Qualifying Procedures
The IAAF sets two qualifying standards: the tougher A standard, and an easier B standard. The US is entitled to send up to three throwers in both the men’s and women’s hammer, however no more than one member can have the B standard. In other words, if the US wants to send a team of more than one thrower, then the additional members must all have the A standard. For more details about the qualifying procedures, check out the great summary from Track and Field News. Also, it is a new Olympiad and every athlete’s slate has been wiped clean. That means marks thrown prior to this season do not count towards qualifying for the World Championships. However athletes also have until July 20th to reach the qualifying standard if they have not reached it already.
What does this mean in the hammer throw? In the men’s hammer no thrower has eclipsed the A standard. Assuming that this remains the case until July 20th, then only the top finisher at the US championships with the B standard will make the team for Moscow. Either A.G. Kruger or Kibwé Johnson would have to reach the A standard for both of them to make the team.
On the women’s side, the top three finishers will likely be the three named to the team. Five women have the A standard and another two have the B standard. The only time the top three would not make the team is if two of the top three do not have the A standard, which is a highly unlikely scenario.
World Championships A Standard – 79.00m
World Championships B Standard – 76.00m
A.G. Kruger – 77.10m
Kibwé Johnson – 76.28m
World Championships A Standard – 72.00m
Gwen Berry – 73.81m
Jessica Cosby-Toruga – 73.58m
Amber Campbell – 73.00m
Amanda Bingson – 72.95m
Jeneva McCall – 72.15m
World Championships A Standard – 69.50m
Chelsea Cassulo – 70.07m
Britney Henry – 69.75m[/one_half]
All seventeen men and seven women competing will receive three throws, with the best eight throwers in each competition immediately receiving an additional three throws.
The men’s competition should be quick and dirty. There are just two names that all attention will be focused on: A.G. Kruger and Kibwé Johnson. Kruger, an Iowa native, was victorious in their one meeting this year and he also has the top mark of the season. But it is hard to overlook Johnson, who has won seven of their last ten matchups and was an Olympic finalist last season. Johnson’s form is unknown; he has not competed since April and has been limited to medium-intensity throws in training due to a hand injury suffered in the spring. But Kruger has also been far from dominant this year and threw just 73.29 meters in his only meet in the past month.
After Kruger and Johnson, no other thrower has reached the B standard. To make the team they would not only have to win, but also would need to break the standard in the next month. Last year’s surprise Olympic Trials runner-up Chris Cralle has thrown 74.14 meters this spring, which is more than two meters better than he entered the Olympic Trials with last year. Drew Loftin also has a best of 74.63 meters this spring and is capable of throwing past the B standard, as shown by his results last year. And finally 2010 national champion Jake Freeman has also thrown over 73 meters this year and holds the stadium record in Des Moines.
While it will be exciting to see which man qualifies for Moscow on Friday, even better action will take place on Saturday afternoon as the women enter the ring. When I previewed the season back in April, I told everyone to keep an eye on the top American women and they have only exceeded my expectations since then. Five Americans have reached the World Championships A standard this year and all five currently rank in the world’s top 20.
With such a close field, it is difficult to make any predictions. That being said, the three favorites are likely the three Olympians from last season: Jessica Cosby, Amber Campbell, and Amanda Bingson. All three have proven to be consistent under pressure. Campbell has won the national title in two of the last three years. Cosby has four titles of her own and along with Campbell is a former World Championships finalist. Bingson has also been more consistent than ever this year. All three have significant wins and losses this year. Cosby has done the best overall and holds a winning record in 2013 against the other A qualifiers, but she has also lost to everyone except Jeneva McCall at least once this year.
Gwen Berry is another thrower that has been more consistent than ever. She enters the competition with the top mark of the year and has perhaps the second best competition record after Cosby. She has beaten Campbell in four of seven meets this spring, bested Bingson in three of four meets, but won just one of three meets against Cosby. But despite these credentials, she also entered the last two national championships as a favorite to make the team and fell short each time with a sixth place finish in 2011 and a seventh place finish last year. This year she will need a performance under pressure more than ever.
McCall is also a thrower to watch as she made the World Championship team in 2011 and also has the A standard this year. But as with her training partner Berry, she might have difficult. Unlike Berry, McCall has shown she performs well under presser. Her biggest hurdle will instead be the fact that she also has the A standard in the shot put and will also be attempting to make the Moscow team in that event. This might be a problem because the shot put competition begins just two and a half hours before the hammer final. If she were to qualify in both events it would be a rare double by an athlete at the international level. While other athletes have had success in both events (e.g. Jessica Cosby was an NCAA champion in the shot put), this would be the first instance I am aware of where an athlete competed in both events at the World Championships. But it will be difficult for her to accomplish, especially if the weather stays as warm as expected.
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So, now that Kibwe finished 5th, he has until July 20 to make the A standard in order to go to Worlds? I hope he can make it.