Track and field and bobsled have ties that go back a long ways. The bobsled requires a fast and explosive start, something that sprinters, throwers, jumpers, and hurdlers all possess. I highlighted some of the track stars entered in the men’s bobsled earlier in the week. And while the women’s bobsled is a relatively new sport added to the Olympics in only 2002, it has also quickly developed a connection to athletics. This year the US team has a very strong contingent of track athletes on the women’s bobsled team. Former summer Olympians Lolo Jones and Lauryn Williams have been making most of the headlines, but they are not alone. Five of the six women on the US team have track backgrounds. Brakemen Aja Evans was a shot putter and sprinter at the University of Illinois and competed for the US and won bronze at the North American, Central American and Caribbean (NACAC) Championships. USA 2 pilot Jamie Greubel competed in the heptathlon for Cornell and USA 3 pilot Jazmine Fenlator was a thrower at Rider University. Overall track and field is the most popular background for athletes, with over a third of competitors from all countries coming from the sport.
The Olympic spirit is once again in the air. Many track athletes often forget that the Olympics also take place when it is cold outside, but on Friday the 2014 Winter Olympics will officially kick off. Not all track athletes forget though, since some will actually be there compete.
John Candy’s character in the movie Cool Runnings was correct in his assessment that sprinters have natural talent for the bobsled. While the Jamacian team is ironically one of the few sleds qualified for the Olympics without a track and field athlete on board, nearly every other country features a sprinter, thrower, or decathlete. And with sixty sleds from 22 countries competing in two events, that means a lot of track and field athletes are in Sochi.
The 1890s were a tumultuous time for the hammer throw. The event was quickly transforming into the modern version and the scene was so chaotic that there wasn’t even a clear world record holder. It was similar to how boxing currently has multiple world champions in each weight class due to the numerous sanctioning bodies. The problem in the hammer was that there were no clear rules. You had a world record holder for throwing different weights. For throwing a hammer with a wooden handle or with a flexible handle. There were record for both the 7-foot, and 9-foot circles, and for throwing from a square. The only constant in these times was the winner: without fail it be an Irishman.
In part one and part two of my training talk with throwing great Ed Burke, we discussed his long journey to 1984 in which he retired after making two Olympic teams and then came back to throw a personal best at age 44 and qualify for his third Olympic team in 1984.
The last part of our training talk centers around that pivotal time. We start by talking about what the youth program he set up immediately after his second retirement that ended up producing hundreds of throwers and multiple Olympians. It started off as a simple idea and can serve as a template for helping growing the sport. Then we also talk about 1984 itself and what it was like to be selected and actual carry the American flag at the Olympic Opening Ceremonies.
Martin: You had been away from the sport nearly 30 years before you came back as a masters athlete. Did you not throw the hammer at all during that time?
Ed: Oh no. Well, I shouldn’t say that. In 1985 I started the Explorer’s Post club with Mac Wilkins. I would demonstrate to the athletes and probably hold the world record for throwing the hammer in Rockport walking shoes.
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.
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…
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.
Get ready for the best women’s hammer throw competition of all time. On Wednesday, the top seven throwers of all time will step foot in the hammer ring at the London Olympic Stadium. This includes three throwers over 78 meters, eight throwers over 76.50 meters, and 11 over 75 meters! Not only will the throws likely be far, but the competition should be close as the front runners closely packed together through the season. Even the experts cannot agree on a favorite. Below you will find an overview of the competition format, profiles of the top athletes, start lists, 2012 performance lists, and predictions.
In normal years the hammer throw is already an event where you never fully know what to expect. This year it is even more so. Not only does the exclusion of the hammer throw from the Diamond League mean that the top names have rarely (if at all) faced each other this year, but three of the favorites have only competed in a combined four meets this year. This makes it incredibly hard to see how everyone stacks up and even more interesting to see how it all unfolds starting on Friday. Below you will find an overview of the competition format, profiles of the top athletes, start lists, 2012 performance lists, and predictions. I’ll also be traveling to London and hope to provide even more updates and a preview of the women’s competition in the coming week.
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.
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…