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Matt McGrath shows the raw nature of the weight throw. He held the world record with the 56-pound version. In the hammer he became the oldest American track and field medalist at age 48 in 1924, a record which still stands.

Bring Back the Weight

Matt McGrath shows the raw nature of the weight throw. He held the world record with the 56-pound version. In the hammer he became the oldest American track and field medalist at age 48 in 1924, a record which still stands.In a major coup for American track and field, a group led by Vin Lananna won a last minute bid to host the 2016 IAAF world Indoor Championships in Portland. This will be only the second time the US has hosted a world championship, the last time being the 1987 World Indoor Championships in Indianapolis. Nearby Eugene will also host the IAAF World Junior Championships next summer. Both American indoor track meets and the hammer throw have been moved to the sport’s fringes over the past few decades. But the World Indoor Championships in Portland presents a great opportunity to add excitement to the meet and help throwers by introducing a new event to the world scene: the weight throw.

Indoor track and field is a dying sport in America. Some of the best meets in the country used to form the indoor circuit. But the number if meets have dwindled, and even the historic Millrose Games has abandoned the Madison Square Garden for the much smaller Armory. Now most top professionals skip the indoor season, which causes the remaining meets to move even further to the fringes of the average person’s attention.

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2013 US Championships Hammer Throw Guide

5e380b36-94a4-4ff5-84fa-92093dc8d08fFor many American throwers the season will already come to an end at this weekend’s US Championships in Des Moines, Iowa. However, for a select few the competition will also serve as a chance to extend their season through August by qualifying for this year’s World Championships in Moscow, Russia. The men will start the action on Friday afternoon, and the women will follow things up on Saturday afternoon. Below you will find a preview of both competitions, as well as an overview of the World Championships qualifying procedures, and an summary of which athletes have met the international qualifying standards so far this year.

She may be trying to smile, but we all know Heidler wasn't satisfied with a bronze in London and will be looking for more this year. Photo by Getty Images.

10 Reasons to Watch the Hammer in 2013

Betty HeidlerAre you ready for the hammer season? Ready or not, elite throwers around the world are getting ready to enter the ring if they haven’t done so already. On Saturday, the first major US meet of the season will take place at the Mt. SAC Relays with throwers like Kibwé Johnson, Libor Charfreitag, Drew Loftin, Mark Dry, Sultana Frizell, Jessica Cosby, Sophie Hitchon, Sarah Holt, Britney Henry, and several other elites. The IAAF Hammer Challenge kicks off in a few weeks in Tokyo. I’ve had six months to speculate, talk about, and analyze the upcoming season. So without further ado here are the 10 reasons why I think everyone should watch the hammer this year.

1 – 80 meters still has to be right around the corner. It was first on my list last year and remains first on my list this year. I want to see the women’s world record broken with the first throw over 80 meters. A half dozen women are within striking distance and just one of them needs to get there. Betty Heidler has to be the favorite to reach the mark first. Not only is she the current world record holder at 79.42 meters, but her recent inconsistency plays to her advantage in this regard. Throwers like Lysenko have been so consistent that I would be more surprised by a big personal best. But with Heidler anything is possible and a big throw of 80 meters is definitely one of them.

Sergej Litvinov Jr., one of the top throwers in the world is not a fan of short hammers.

On Short Hammers

Throwing light and heavy hammers should be a major part of hammer throw training. But in addition to playing around with different weights, many throwers also add variety to the length of the hammer. This is another way to add variety to training, but one method I am not a fan of.

In most of Western Europe, short hammers and heavy hammers go hand in hand. I have never met a Swiss or German coach that has thrown a normal length 10-kilogram hammer for men, and few that even utilize a normal length 9-kilogram. The theory is that heavy hammers can develop bad technical habits, but shortening a heavy hammer makes the hammer feel lighter and easier for the athlete to throw with proper technique.

Kibwe's old technique.

In Defense of Kibwe’s Technique

Kibwe's old technique.When you ask people who are the best technical throwers currently throwing they will likely throw out the name of Koji Murofushi or Primoz Kozmus. Few would likely name Kibwe Johnson. The reason for this is that people tend to focus on what people do wrong rather than what people do right. For years, Kibwe did a lot wrong. As an example, take a look at the picture to the right. But now many of those errors are gone, and his strengths are even better. While his technique is still very much a work in progress, and he would be the first to say that, I feel it needs a defense for the many things he does well.

Krisztián Pars remember his late coach Pal Nemeth after his victory in London.

Looking Back at 2012: Men’s Rankings

Krisztián Pars remember his late coach Pal Nemeth after his victory in London.
Track and Field News will release their annual rankings soon, which are considered the international benchmark. Once again I can’t wait that long, so I’ve compiled my own year-end rankings.

My criteria is subjective, so let the debate begin. Feel free to post your own thoughts in the comment section below. If you want some stats for the season, check out the IAAF’s performance lists. Because both Ivan Tikhon (BLR) and Kirill Ikonnikov (RUS) have pending doping suspensions, I have not included them in the rankings.

Bondarchuk and Dylan Armstrong. Photo by Kamloops This Week.

Ask Martin Vol. 17: In Defense of Bondarchuk

Question: I know you’ve written in the past about some of Dr. Bondarchuk’s concepts. Let me share two arguments that could be made:

  • For: Bondarchuk understand the science of throwing after decades of coaching and research. The periodization cycles that you discuss of being up, down, etc. are all based experience and data and have been proven through results.
  • Against: The general hammer community gets trickles of Bondarchuk’s wisdom, but it all seems vague and hard to grasp. Fuzzy science. It’s a community of people who have drank the cool aid. His record can’t be argued with, but he doesn’t walk on water as some may say. If I had access to some of the best athletes in the world, I’d look pretty smart too. At the end of the day, sound training theory, good technique, strength training, and special strength, etc. will determine performance. It doesn’t have to be as mysterious as it has been presented.

Discuss. -Coach L

Harold Connolly's 1956 Olympic victory was just the first of many successes.

Harold Connolly: Grit Personified

Psychologist Angela Duckworth has done some interesting research into what personality traits can be used as predictors for success in school and other ventures. IQ, for example, is actually a poor indicator of how high a student’s GPA will be. Duckworth’s early research showed that self-control was a much more reliable predictor, but even that was not a good predictor of higher successes. As a lengthy New York Times piece summarized “People who accomplished great things, she noticed, often combined a passion for a single mission with an unswerving dedication to achieve that mission, whatever the obstacles and however long it might take. She decided she needed to name this quality, and she chose the word ‘grit.’”

When I think of grit, I think of one man: 1956 Olympic Champion Harold Connolly.

Wenlock, the Olympic mascot, grew on me throughout the Olympics.

Reflections on the London Olympic Games

Last evening the Olympics officially came to a close, but not after ten days of exciting athletics action. From David Rudisha’s solo 800m world record to 19-year old Keshorn Walcott surprise victory in the men’s javelin, the week was full of amazing feats, surprises, as well as some disappointments. The hammer throw was no exception. Here are five thoughts I have on the hammer throw in London after watching the greatest show on earth.