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Remembering Yuriy Sedykh

World hammer throw record holder Yuriy Sedykh passed away on Tuesday. When you think of Sedykh there is Sedykh the thrower and Sedykh the man. I’m not going to pretend I knew Sedykh the man very well. I met him a handful of times at clinics, but never had an in depth conversation with him. Nevertheless, like every hammer thrower in the world, I intimately knew Sedykh the thrower. Looking around social media for the past few days it is amazing to see all the memories of throwers like me. They met him a few times, but he changed their lives. Below are a few thoughts on Sedykh the thrower.

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Finding victory amongst failure

Every year l write a memorial to Harold Connolly on the anniversary of his death. When l started to think about this year’s topic last month the theme was going to be “mission accomplished.” America was sending its strongest team to the Olympics in a century. Harold Connolly’s work to resurrect American hammer throwing has been showing progress for a long time. Now, 11 years after his death, we were on the verge of seeing the ultimate fruits of his labor.

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Against all odds

Look back at the history of track and field and there are some legendary performances that we can all admire no matter the era. 60 years ago Abebe Bikila won the Olympic marathon barefoot in a time of 2:15, just over 6 minutes off the times from recent Olympics. Jesse Owens had to dig starting blocks into the cinder track when he ran, but his performances in the long jump would still qualify for the Olympic final nearly 90 years later. Harold Connolly won Olympic hammer throw gold despite partial paralysis in one arm. Read more

Why athletes need to give back

One of the constant struggles we have in Switzerland is keeping athletes involved in the sport after they retire. If you look at the all-time list in the hammer throw, only two of the top 25 throwers (myself included) are actively coaching. A few others coached briefly, but for the most part once athletes retire we will never see them again. Read more

For the love of the game

When asked by reporters last month about how he endured such a difficult drama-filled offseason, San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich had a quick response that put things in perspective: Read more

If Not Now, When?

If you see something that is wrong, you can do two things: act or wait. Acting is not easy; it may cost you your friends, your reputation, or your job. But in many cases it is what is needed. If you wait for someone else to change things then change will likely never come. The old saying goes “you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs.” That was definitely true in the case of Harold Connolly, the man who taught me that you can’t compromise or back down on matters of principle. Read more

So You’re Addicted to Throwing

[gview file=”Addiction is not something to joke about, but if you look around our sport it is filled with addicts. An addiction is a compulsive psychological need for a habit-forming activity. The throwing events are addicting. This is no joke; our sport has a way of burrowing into your brain and occupying your every thought and action throughout the day, especially during the Olympics. I am an addict so much that I even dedicated a blog once to taking a three-day break from training. It’s was as if I were feeling withdrawals and couldn’t wait until my next fix. Read more

The Power of Sport

When I first met Harold Connolly I was not in a good place. I had just turned 18, was starting my senior year of high school, and while my friends were picking out colleges to attend, I had trouble just motivating myself to get out of bed in the morning. I was fat, lazy, depressed and directionless. It’s hard to believe, but I weighed over 300 pounds and was failing all of my classes. Thankfully in walked Harold. 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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The Times They Are a-Changin’

At the beginning of 1964 young singer-songwriter Bob Dylan released what would be one of his most popular hits, “The Times They Are a-Changin’.” The song came out during a tumultuous time around the world and these changes were not limited to politics or culture, they extended even to the hammer throw which was undergoing a rapid transformation. At the front of the sport throughout this period was one man: Harold Connolly. Read more