German National Throws Conference

RegineGermany is the top throws country in the world. Other countries may have more depth, but Germany has developed an unmatched elite throws team. Despite being a fraction of the size of rivals like the United States and Russia, it is the only country in the world that has a legitimate medal contender in all eight throwing events.

This past weekend I travelled to the Kienbaum national training center outside of Berlin for the German federation’s annual throwing conference. The training center is already a heaven for throwers. Add in 100 energetic coaches and you start to see why the country has so much success. But as good as thing are, the Germans face the same problems every country does. There was much heated debate about how to get kids started in the sport earlier, retain them longer, and provide better support for elite athletes.

But this debate is also key to their success. Rather than being antagonistic, everyone was on the same page because they were working towards the same goal. That teamwork and structure forms the foundation of their success. Despite being the best they want to improve and learn from the best in Germany and around the world in order to do so.

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In Fränkisch-Crumbach Sultana is, and always will be, the fan favorite.

Meet Recap: Fränkisch-Crumbach and Basel

In Fränkisch-Crumbach Sultana is, and always will be, the fan favorite.It’s been a busy weekend. Over the past 48 hours I have competed twice and racked up nearly 600 miles on our rental car. I’ve competed at one of the best speciality meets in the world, won the hammer throw and a watch at the only Swiss Meeting that includes it, caught up with many friends, and returned home with enough time to do laundry before I have to return to work tomorrow. It was exhausting, but it was fun.

The first big event of the weekend was the Fränkisch-Crumbach international hammer meet in Germany. This is my fifth year at the event, which packs thousands of fans into the town park to gossip, grab a beer, and, of course, watch hammer throwing. I’ve written about how great the meet is every year, so there is little to add this year. Once again the meet management and fans did not let me down and I tied for my my highest ever finish at the meet.

Chris Cralle

Coaching Roundtable: Chris Cralle Video Analysis

This is the first post in the new Coaching Roundtable series, which will bring together top coaches from the around the world to give their different perspectives on the same topic. The first roundtable brings together three of the top hammer coaches for a video analysis session. In addition, feel free to also leave your comments below. Subjects for the coaching roundtable are chosen exclusively among members of this site. The subject: US Olympic Trials runner-up Chris Cralle.

"Not good enough for the Diamond League"

Training Talk with Kathrin Klaas

Kathrin Klass may be smaller than her competitors, but she certainly isn’t quieter. The two-time German Olympian is one of the most vocal advocates for the hammer throw and is leading an effort to get the hammer throw included in the Diamond League. Her recent writings have garnered the support of the German athletic federation. Klaas also is as aggressive in the ring as she is outside it, with a personal best of 75.48 meters (16th on the all-time world list) and a fourth place finish at the 2009 World Championships. While she is now clearly focused on London, she took time to answer a few questions in June about training and the current state of hammer throwing.


Watching Fraenkisch-Crumbach From the Stands

For the fourth year in a row I ventured north for the memorable Fränksich-Crumbach Hammermeeting in small-town Germany. I’ve been explicit in stating that this is my favorite hammer meet around. Attendance looked a little higher at this year’s tenth edition of the meet, but the results were a little down and so was the excitement. I think everyone was expecting a world record and some mere international calibre results left them wanting; Betty Heidler defeated perhaps the best women’s field the meet has ever had, and Markus Esser convincingly won the men’s title. There is still just something unique about the meet. Nearly every one of the fans embraces the event in a way that makes the athletes feel like we have been adopted by a family. To take an example, I stepped into one of the local hotels to look for Sultana. I had never been there before, but as soon as I walked in the proprietor said: “You must be Mr. Bingisser.” He then explained to his wife that I had written a great article about Fränkisch-Crumbach on the internet.

Throwing the hammer indoors in Kamloops.

Throwing Hammer Indoors

Throwing in the winter can present all sorts of challenges, but as I keep repeating on this site, it is important to throw the hammer year-round. The weight throw might look like the hammer throw, but nothing can replace the real thing. Throwing outside is the best option since you can get more feedback from your results, and I posted some tips for doing that last month. But it isn’t possible for everyone. In some places the winter is just too extreme to have a productive training session outside. Elsewhere, you are constrained by limited sunlight. If you work a normal job, or even a part-time job, it can be difficult to find daylight hours to go throwing (luckily our new facility this year has some lights since that was the major issue for me last season).

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

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 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.

Now the meet doesn’t have the largest budget in the world, the most stars, or even the best results each year. But it brings the best atmosphere I have ever seen. When the Russian federation asked Sergej Litvinov Jr. about the meet, he described it as “a bunch of Germans sit around, drink beer, and watch hammer throwing.” That pretty much describes the scene. This year an estimated 1,500 spectators showed up to watch a world class field headlined by the new women’s world record holder Betty Heidler. In speaking with the meet director, it was a record attendance. The meet has grown each year in its 9 year history and this year they added a larger stage, video screens, and a larger seating area to accomodate more fans.

In Search of a Good Ring

It’s hard to find some 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. My former roommate Sultana Frizell came to visit for the week to get a break from her training camp in Germany. We were table to find a good ring on Wednesday at a meet in Löffingen, a pint sized town in the Black Forest of southwest Germany.

We drove to the meet with Richard and Yvette Bot, Dutch throwers that live in Switzerland and we met in Kamloops at the World Masters Championships last year. Other than us, everyone else at the meet was likely old enough to remember the war in Germany. But, the ring was good and that was enough. Yvette threw a personal best. Richard threw his best throw in seven years and a new record for the Swiss canton of Wallis. Sultan threw over 70 meters again. And I also had my best mark since the Swiss Championships with a throw of 64.15m. I am especially happy with that mark since I was struggling to throw over 60 meters with some throws at practice last week.


Fraenkisch-Crumbach Recap

I’m not sure whether to call it complacency or having perspective, but I threw horribly this weekend and am fine with that. I could search for reasons why I didn’t throw far and I could find the small victories that came from this meet; there are plenty of each. But, I’d rather not spend my time doing that. This is all that matters: I was in great shape two weeks ago, yet I only threw 62.53m on Sunday. Five meters of distance doesn’t just, like they say in the Shawshank Redemption, up and vanish like a fart in the wind. The distance is still in me: I just need the technique to bring it back out. I was talking with my friend Sergej Litvinov Jr. after the meet and he told me that “Everyone must have both good and bad meets every season.” I agree. But unlike him, I’m not able to win a meet on an off day and still throw over 77 meters.

Part of the reason I am so content with the meet is because I had a blast over the weekend. As I mentioned last week, the Sparkassen Hammerwurf-Meeting in Fränkisch-Crumbach, Germany is perhaps the best hammer throw meet in the world. Not only did I get beerwurst as a prize, but the meet once again brought together everything a great competition needs for its eight edition: sunny 80ºF weather, over 500 to 1000 knowledgeable and screaming fans, and a world class field with six World Championship finalists. More than anything, the organizing committee worked hard to gather over 70 sponsors, set up the fan friendly venue, and make sure that the meet ran smoothly for the 117 competing hammer throwers. The result was a day of pure hammer throwing in a picturesque small German village. It was a sunny holiday weekend that the locals could have spent doing any number of things, but they all chose to support hammer throwing at its finest.

At the Notre Dame de Strasbourg Cathedral

Training Camp in Saarbrücken

Since Norway, I’ve been busy training again. I feel the most comfortable in the ring when I have had consistent training, so I felt it was best to get a few solid weeks of training after several weeks in a row of competitions. I’ve been training again outside Saarbrücken, Germany with coach Christoph Sahner‘s training […]