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The top four finishers at the 2013 Swiss Championships.

Five in a Row

The top four finishers at the 2013 Swiss Championships.

The top four finishers at the 2013 Swiss Championships. Photo by Fritz Berger.

I am writing from the comforts of the Pacific Northwest, but on Friday night I was 5,000 miles away in Luzern competing in blistering heat at the Swiss Championships. As usual, I came in as the strong favorite and a mediocre first throw was good enough to secure the win and my fifth straight Swiss title. While the end result was not much better, it was a fun competition as always.

The day started off with some fireworks from some other throwers. Junior javelin thrower Lukas Wieland broke his own junior national record four times and ended up with a massive throw of 75.11 meters which puts him among the ten best junior throwers in the world this year. Simultaneously, the women’s hammer throw also produced some amazing results. Nicole Zihlmann also secured her fifth national title, but in doing so broke a number of barriers. Most importantly, she broke the Swiss record twice in the competition. Her throw of 61.54 meters also was her first time over 60 meters, just the second Swiss thrower ever over 60 meters, and qualified her for September’s Francophone Games in Nice. When it was time for the men’s competition, we also raised the level a bit. For the first time since 2007 we had five men over 50 meters. This might sound unimpressive, but considering that Swiss hammer throwing reached its low point in recent years (the silver was won with just 46 meters last year) it is promising, if only a small step forward. Even more promising is that one of our youngest throwers, Robin Santoli, threw a personal best and his first podium finish.
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It shouldn't be such a big deal, but it's always fun to throw in the stadium.

Meet Recap SVM and Training Update

I reached the end of my latest training program on Friday and was feeling in great shape heading into this weekend’s annual club championships, the Schweizer Vereinsmeisterschaften (SVM). The SVM is normally not the ideal setting to throw far with just four throws, one flight of 25 or more throwers, an early morning start, and no one near my level. But some great weather and a chance to throw in the Stade Olympique de la Pontaise, home of the Lausanne Diamond League meeting, was motivating to me and I was able to put together another solid meet with a throw of 64.38 meters. In addition to winning the hammer, I contributed some more points with a fifth-place finish in the discus. However it was not enough as our injury-plagued men’s team took second place by just three points.

It shouldn't be such a big deal, but it's always fun to throw in the stadium.

It shouldn’t be such a big deal, but it’s always fun to throw in the stadium. Foto by Fritz Berger.

With the meet behind me, it is time to start my next training phase and also a good time to reflect on the last training program. I had been training under the old program since the European Cup Winter Throwing at the end of March and it had obviously worked well since I improved more than four meters over the last two months and am way ahead of where I was last year at this time. However not everything went as planned since my best competition results came a month before the end of the program and I never really felt like I put everything together with the competition weight hammer.
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Meet Recap: European Champion Clubs Cup

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One travel tip I forgot to include last week was the most important: be prepared for anything and be patient with those things you cannot prepare for. Even after years of traveling for competitions, there are still surprises and this weekend’s meet was no exception.

On Friday, I traveled together with my clubmates at LC Zürich to Dubnica nad Váhom in Slovakia for the European Champion Clubs Cup. As the Swiss club champions for both men and women, our club had the opportunity to represent Switzerland in a competition against the national champions of other nations. The Dubnica competition was the second league and a top two finish would lead to a promotion to the top league next season.

The whole weekend turned out to be a comedy of errors. After a plane delay, our bus was then pulled over by the police, turning a four hour journey into an eight hour adventure. Veteran discus throw David and I were given our room key after arrival and then headed upstairs to find an expansive room nearly empty except for one small solitary double bed. Since we both outweigh all of our other team members by at least 30 pounds each, it only made sense that we were unlucky ones forced to cram in a bed together. Our shoulders were as wide as the bed itself. While they had no additional rooms, the hotel was able to find a slightly larger bed for us to share in a room that is not normally rented out. When we finally went to bed we then realized the blanket was only big enough to cover one of us, leading us to burst out laughing at the absurdity of the day. We both woke many times during the night since any slight move by either of us would make the bed creak louder than a haunted house, which again caused us to laugh.
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Thankfully the winter throwing competition did not have winter weather.

Meet Recap: 2013 Zurich Winterwurf

Yesterday’s competition, LC Zürich’s second annual winter throwing competition, was a tale of two people: Martin the coach and Martin the athlete.

Martin the coach couldn’t have had a better day. Six of my youth throwers were entered in the competition and all six set personal bests. All six also met their qualification standards for their respective Swiss age-group championships. The group has been throwing the hammer once or twice a week for the past four and a half months. While most competed in other events indoors, this was their first chance to measure their progress in the hammer throw. Each one has reached new bests in training, so I just hoped the competition results would reflect that and motivate them even more as the real season approaches. The next meets for them are not until May and their championships are not until September, so there is plenty of time for improvement. After setting a personal best of nearly 10 meters, I reminded one athlete that this does not happen every day. I have to remind myself that too. Not every day can I see so many of my throwers celebrating a personal best at once.
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I only wish I were this ripped.

The Clark Kent of Hammer Throwing

I have the glasses and suit, now I just need some more muscles and the ability to fly.

I have been featured in a lot of magazine and newspaper articles over the years, but my recent interview with my club’s magazine was a little more fun since I had a photographer who wanted to experiment a little. I knew it would produce something unique when I received the photo to the right as an MMS from photographer Adrian Bretscher of Hangar Ent. Group. Bring your suit, he told me. You can see the results below.
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I guess I put the me in Team. I missed the hammer throw medal ceremony and left our youngest member up there alone.

A Few Swiss Championships to End the Season

Coaching last weekend at the Swiss Junior Championships.

With the international season wrapping up last weekend, it is also time for the domestic season to come to an end in Switzerland. Rather than just slowly coming to a close, it is custom in Switzerland to end the season with various Swiss Championships. Throughout September we have the Swiss Relay Championships, Swiss Multi-Event Championships, Swiss Team Championships, and the championships for various youth age-groups.
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Sporthalle Sihlhölzli in 1935

Cribs Meets Hammer Throwing

Sportanlage Sihlhölzli in 1935

Back in November our historic hammer throw training facility here in Zurich officially closed and turned into skatepark. While it was a huge loss, luckily we had another option to move to: Sportanlage Sihlhölzli. Sihlhölzli is a dedicated track and field facility and sport hall located less than a mile from the city center in Zurich.
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