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10 Reasons to Watch the Hammer in 2012

The international season starts up this weekend with the first leg of the IAAF Hammer Challenge in Kawasaki, Japan. Until the hammer throw is added to the Diamond League, the hammer challenge will remain the top circuit of throwing meets. And with so few competitive opportunities many of the best are jumping right in. The field in Kawasaki will feature five 80-meter throwers (see the full start list here).

By the end of the year, my wish list from last season was mostly fulfilled. On the eve of the 2012 season I’ve thought of the top 10 things I’m looking forward to this year. Feel free to share yours in the comments section below.


The highlight of 2012 will no doubt be the Olympic Games in London.

1 – A woman over 80 meters. This was high on my list last year and Betty Heidler came within two feet of the barrier in the earlier season. There were rumors that she threw over it in training during the summer, but it never materialized at a meet. A few women may be capable of hitting the mark (even my old training buddy Sultana Frizell threw her name in the mix with a 75 meter bomb in March), but Heidler has to be the frontrunner now. Not only has she thrown the furthest, but she is also motivated to improve even more after she only claimed silver at last year’s world championships.
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Meet Recap: European Cup Winter Throwing 2012

This weekend I participated in the European Cup Winter Throwing for the third straight year. The idea of the meet is to provide a winter championship for events, such as the hammer throw, that cannot compete indoors. Since we throw outside a warmer location is ideal, yet this is the first time in three years that this goal was actually accomplished.

This year’s edition of the meet was held in Bar, Montenegro, a small Adriatic port town in Montenegro. With picturesque mountains, a ring just 100 meters from the sea, and warm weather, the conditions were perfect. After a strong opening meet last weekend I was hoping to throw 65 or 66 meters this weekend especially after being motivated by Sultana‘s massive Canadian record yesterday of 75.04 meters. Alas it was not to be.
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Arizona Training Camp 2012

As I left work last week several coworkers asked me where I would be headed during my time off. I explained that I would first be attending a friend’s wedding and then off to a training camp in Scottsdale. The response was along the lines of: “You mean you’ll be working out the whole time? Doesn’t sound like much of a vacation to me.” I get a similar response whenever I head out on a vacation, as if it is impossible to enjoy yourself in a warm location if you have to train. Rather than thinking of it as work, I couldn’t think of a much better vacation than the one I am having right now. The two people sitting next to me on the plane ride down both were headed to Arizona to play golf. So why do people think that I also wouldn’t enjoy playing my favorite sport non-stop for a week?
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Kamloops Training Camp 2011

Reunited with the master.

Over the past ten days I have taken a trip back in time. I returned to my former home and training partners. I returned to working with my coach in person. I returned to the routine of a life 100% focused on training. In other words, I returned to Kamloops.

After nearly a year away from coach Bondarchuk, I needed to touch base with him. We talk or exchange emails every week, but that isn’t the same as getting in person feedback from him. The feedback is something he also needs, since it is also difficult for him to determine my progress without observing me first hand.
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The Greatest Little Meeting in the World

You know a meet is great when you throw badly and still enjoy it. That is how I’ve felt after competing at the Sparkassen Fränkisch-Crumbach Hammermeeting the past two years. After returning to the meet this year I can tell you it feels even better when you walk away with a great result.

The top 10 finishers in the men's hammer throw.

The Setting
I have a great sense of direction, but I’ve been to Fränkisch-Crumbach three times and I still don’t know exactly where it is. In general terms, the town of 3,000 people lies about an hour south of Frankfurt. But the great American invention of straight roads have yet to arrive to the area so I end up taking a new route each time. When you finally arrive, you feel like you’ve set foot in hammer throwing mecca.
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10 Reasons to Watch the Hammer in 2011

The outdoor season is about to start in full swing and I’m excited. Last season had its ups and downs. One the one hand, the women’s hammer saw a new world record and every competition was a battle on both the men’s and women’s side. But on the other hand, the level of the men’s hammer was at historic lows. You’d have to look back to 1981 for the last time the world leading mark was so low and so few throwers broke 80 meters. Looking towards this summer, both men and women look to be ready for an even better season in 2011.

Olympic champion Primoz Kozmus will be making his comeback in 2011.

1 – The return of the champions. Primož Kozmus and Ivan Tikhon have won every Olympic or World Championship gold medal dating back to 2005. Kozmus was the Beijing Olympic champ and 2009 World Champion before announcing his retirement at the peak of his career. After one year away from the sport, he wanted back in the game and announced his return and plans to defend his Olympic gold. His goals for this season are modest, he’s aiming for 78 meters and a spot in the finals in Daegu, but it will be exciting to see if he can return to form under the guidance of his new coach. Tikhon has had a more interesting path back to the sport. After winning three world championships and throwing the second-best mark of all time, he was banned for a positive test at the Olympics and then stripped of his bronze medal. After a lengthy appeal with the Court of Arbitration in Sport, he was reawarded his medal and is now eligible to compete again. Both Tikhon and Kozmus have some of the best technique in the sport and will be a pleasure to watch again.
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Offseason Training Recap

My year typically can be broken down into three phases: the offseason, the preseason, and the competitive season. The offseason lasts from September until February and can hardly be thought of as time off. This is the time when I dedicate myself to training and put in the highest amount of volume during the year. The preseason begins in March and lasts until the end of May. During this time my training will remain the same, but I will begin to do a few competitions to test my form. Then, from June until August the big meets begin and I start to back off the training a little to try and reach new bests.
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More Press for the Hammer Throw

I’ve been busy lately with my continued mission to evangelize the world about the hammer throw. If you are a frequent reader of this site, you already know my thoughts on the current state of the hammer throw. We’ve been excluded from the top meets and are shrinking away into oblivion. But perhaps worse is that the vast majority of track fans don’t even realize our absence. Many posts here have tried to inform the world of this, and now I’ve spread my efforts elsewhere.
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2010 Season Review

I was looking back at my review of last season today and it is eerily similar to how I feel about this season. However, the two years were world’s apart. I not only threw three meters further this year, but I was also more consistent and had almost ten meets over my season’s best from last year. But, as always, I want more.

The Good – Like I said above, I threw better than last year. Much better. The highlight of the season was another win at the national championships by a convincing margin. I finished more than fourteen meters ahead of the next Swiss thrower (Björn, a German citizen, also threw great for second place), which by my research is the largest margin of victory at a Swiss Championship. Training has also gone very well. I improved my special strength and set lots of training bests from the 5-kilogram hammer all the way up to the 10-kilogram hammer. If I can get that strength into the throw, I know it will produce something over 70-meters. My technique also improved this year, although it is still not where I want it to be.
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In Search of a Good Ring

It’s hard to find good competitions this time of year, so I’ve actually spent a lot of time lately searching for good hammer rings. Showing up to a competition in Europe can be a bit of a gamble in this department. For instance, check out this ring fellow UW grad Aretha Thurmond had to throw out of in July. I’ve already found one great ring in Locarno and visited it for four meets this year. This week I had a chance to explore another ring with my former roommate, Sultana Frizell, who took a break from her training camp in Germany to visit me. On Wednesday, we found a good ring at a meet in Löffingen, a pint-sized town in the Black Forest of southwest Germany.

With Richard, Yvette, and Sultana at the Schwarzwälder Werfercup


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