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HMMR Podcast Episode 266: Use the ball (with Lance Deal)

The hammer throw is a unique sport. Most types of throwing require an athlete to apply force to an implement, but in the hammer throw you have to work together with the implement. That changes the whole dynamic of how you think about accelerating. On this week’s episode we nerd out a little and get into technical detail with one of the best of all time as Olympic medalist Lance Deal explains how he thought about accelerating in the hammer throw.

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When Do Hammer Throwers Hit Their Prime?

After the US championships, blogger Jesse Squire discussed a question many track fans are wondering: will Athens 400m Olympic champion Jeremy Wariner ever be able to break 44-seconds again? At 27-years old, most people say that Wariner still has his prime ahead of him. Squire looked a little deeper and found that this is just not the case in the 400 meters.

Wariner is not “relatively young” or “hardly ancient”. He is ancient by the standards of the 400 meters. It is an event that chews people up and spits them out. Only marathoners’ careers have shorter life spans. The gold standard of quarter-miling, breaking 44.00, has been done 47 times by nine athletes. Only once has it ever been done by a man older than 26 whose name was not Michael Johnson. All realistic analyses of the event should ignore Johnson—he was to long sprinting as Secretariat was to three-year-old racing, a once in a century outlier. If you look at those eight other mere mortals, the median age for a sub-44.00 is twenty-two.

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