Everyone agrees Pars (center) is the favorite. But everyone has different picks for the podium this year.

Lessons from London: Height, Weight, and Age

I am a numbers guy. Maybe it is because I work in tax law for a living, but I love it when things can be broken down into numbers since numbers are easy to analyze. The Olympics games is a gold mine of statistics, and I’m not just talking about the results and distances. Browse the Olympic homepage and you’ll find out information about athletes age, height, weight, etc. These three numbers in particular interested me this week.

Height

I have always thought that the hammer throw as a very egalitarian event, with success available to people of all body types. But a quick survey of the height of hammer throwers shows otherwise. The range between the tallest and shortest hammer throwers in the competition was the smallest of any heavy throws event for the men with the shortest competitor measuring 177cm (5’9.75″) and the tallest measuring 193cm (6’4″). And the closer you focus, the more everyone starts to look the same…


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11 replies
  1. Mattias
    Mattias says:

    Maybe one reason of female hammerthrowers younger age is because it is less strength needed to be able to develop the speed necessary with a lighter implement? Comparing women in all event beeing younger maybe that is because they mature earlier and thus also reach career peak sooner on average.

    Reply
  2. Bryan K
    Bryan K says:

    Maybe it has to do with how rhythmic the event becomes. Maybe the long time period for men helps them find the rhythm that works for getting the hammer to the maximum velocity. With woman perhaps the longer they work with their lighter implement and also get stronger that over time they begin to change their rhythm that worked very well for them while they were not as strong.

    Reply
  3. Trevor M
    Trevor M says:

    Younger event, younger athletes? All of the male medalists from the 2012 OG were throwing hammer before women’s hammer was even an olympic sport. Any women olympic hammer throwers who are the same age as the male competitors wouldn’t have had hammer as an olympic sport until they were 15-20 years old, and if they started at this age it would be a serious disadvantage than the girls who started at 10-15 years old, which turns out to be the age of most of the women in the final this year. Any thoughts?

    Reply
    • Martin
      Martin says:

      Good points, but it still doesn’t really explain why the women’s hammer throwers are younger than women in other throwing events. The average women’s hammer thrower in London was born in 1986, making them 13 years old when the hammer was added at the World Championships and 14 when it was added at the Olympics. That gave them plenty of time to develop. And the coaches were already around for the men, so it is not like this event started from scratch. The newness of the event definitely contributes a little, but I don’t think that is the only factor. The women’s pole vault is just as new but the top 5 in the world average nearly 30 years in age.

      Reply
  4. Don Babbitt
    Don Babbitt says:

    I will make a comment about the men’s age in the hammer. I think what you see is that there is not much new coming up in the sport. The same guys that were medalling 10 years ago are still in the mix. Murofushi, Ziolkowski, Vizzoni, Primos, etc….. I also think because of the lack of good prize money for the sport, and lack of funding you see mainly throwers from well-off situations (Germany, and in Koji’s case Japan), or countries where $25,000 a year is above the national per capita income (Eastern Europe, former USSR), making up the majority of the relevant throwers these days. The IAAF’s “promotion” of the World Hammer Challenge has helped accelerate this situation I am sorry to say.

    Reply
  5. Taylor Berliant
    Taylor Berliant says:

    I do not mean this with any disrespect to women, quite the contrary, but perhaps women’s hammer is just an easier event to master. I think women are much stronger and more athletic than the 4k:16# conversion gives them credit for. I think that with how advanced training and science has become, mastering a 4k implement undervalues what women are capable of and because of the quality of athlete present in women’s hammer throwing today, mastering a 4k hammer is not an equal comparison to a male athlete mastering a 16# hammer.

    Reply
  6. gary cooper
    gary cooper says:

    I would like to see the women have the opportunity to compete with a heavier weight hammer. perhaps a 5K.As I know some in this Country throwing over 60m with a 12.

    Still. The Women are not over 80m ( though they are on their way soon). with the 4k in comparison to the men with the 16.

    Reply
  7. Leo
    Leo says:

    Your conversions are just a little out, 6 foot is 1.83, so Hoffa is about 5’10 1/2″, the actual weights are interesting, I’ll bet neither Murofushi nor Koszmus are over 100kg?

    Reply
  8. Don Babbitt
    Don Babbitt says:

    Hello Leo!

    Reese is 6-0, 1.83m (not 1.80m), Koji is right about 102kg I think.

    About the women’s hammer. I still think it is developing so you will see young throwers get better faster than thrower did just a few years ago. This is what keeps the sport “young”. The men’s side is in a period of stagnation, or if you look in terms of distance you could argue for a state of decline. Of all the throwing events, I think the hammer is the one in which you can have the longest career (not necessarily taking the longest to master), although discus may be a close second. This is why you see the average age of the top throwers being a little older on the men’s side.

    Reply

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  1. [...] Martin Bingisser analyzes the height, weight and age of the hammer throwers in London. [...]

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