Three years ago I rolled out a list of the top moustaches in throwing history in honor of Movember. From Mac Wilkins to Jean-Pierre Egger, and Yuriy Sedykh to Aleksandr Bagach, moustaches of all varieties were present.
But a moustache is just the first step on the facial hair train. So in honor of No Shave November, I bring you some of the best beards in throwing history. These throwers have truly taken it to the next level. As I am sure I have missed some, please add them to the comments below or contact me directly.
When I think of bearded throwers, only one name comes to mind: Ricky Bruch. The Swedish throwing legend won an Olympic bronze in the discus and tied the world record at one point. But he is better known for his outspokenness and The Soul is Greater Than The World, a documentary about him that is among the top sporting documentaries of all time. But let’s be honest, it was his beard was greater than the world.
One of the few beards to be worthy of a magazine cover was from former US champion Al Feuerbach. He sported his beard in the late 1970s, but it had enough o a legend behind it that it made the cover of the Milo strength magazine a few years ago. Let’s just say short shorts and beards are a great combo.
The ZZ Top
Javelin thrower Kyle Nielsen crossed paths at the University of Washington long enough for me to see his young baby smooth skin. Since then he has grown an epic ZZ Top caliber beard he has thrown 77 meters and won a few Canadian titles and thrown 77 meters. Coincidence? I think not. That is what living in rural Alberta does to a man. He recently switched to a new training group and joined the World Athletics Centre Canada near Vancouver and is more presentable in public.
Just behind Nielsen in the best red-head category is Russ Winger, sporting the all-american lumberjack beard. Winger had it way before the hipsters tried to lay claim to it.
The Dazed and Confused
Many throwers in the 1970s had short lived beards as they let their awesome moustaches get out of control. But as with anything cool, former world record holder Brian Oldfield pulled it off the best.
Latvia’s Maris Urtans is not a household name in North America, but he is among the world’s best shot putter. I got to see him launch his personal best of 21.63 meters (nearly 71 feet) back in 2010, and he followed that season up with a podium finish at the European Championships. The shaved head really provides a blank slate to show off his wild beard.
The shot put and discus definitely have the monopoly on beards. But a few hammer throwers also sport them. Most recently Chris Cralle‘s beard has become more and more unkempt since his runner-up finish at the 2012 Olympic Trials. As his results have also continued to grow, perhaps the beard is the secret to his success.
Two-time Olympic champion Tomasz Majewski‘s beard, in combination with his long ponytail, have given him his brand and the nickname “The Pirate.”
My own beard pales in comparison to these legends. It is now in it’s third iteration and helped me stand out among the Swiss team at this summer’s European Championships. Unfortunately I have to tame it enough to fit with a suit and tie, not to mention my wife’s wishes.
Perhaps the most well known throwing beard is one that is known more for the face behind it. After the 2012 Olympic Trials Kurt Roberts photo went viral online. You have to give it all you can.