On Thursday we posted our USATF Championships women’s throw guide. With stars and depth in every event, it will be an exciting meet starting on Thursday. But that is only half of the action. The men will also bring some big names to the table, led as always by a strong group of shot putters. With all the great throwers converging on Eugene we may have to rename the city #throwstownUSA by the time the weekend is over. Below is a in depth look at each of the men’s throwing events taking place at next week’s championship. Read more
A decade ago America women’s throwing was struggling. At the 2005 World Championships only one woman (Erin Gilreath) made a final. She placed ninth. America was only able to send two shot putters and one javelin thrower. But ten years later the picture is completely different. In the women’s shot put, for example, thirteen athletes have the world championships qualifying standard this year. In each and every event America not only has potential finalists, but medalists. What used to be one of the weak sports of American track and field has now become a strength. With the US Championships starting in one week it will be a great chance to showcase some of these new stars and the added depth across the country. Below is a bit more about the championship and an in depth look at each event. Check back this weekend we’ll also provide coverage of the men’s throwing events. Read more
Kibwé beat me to the punch in January when he outlined his wishes for the hammer in 2015, but our event is so fun that there is always room for another’s take on it. The month of May is when the season really gets underway, so it’s time for me to count down my annual list of 10 reasons to watch the hammer throw this season. Please share what you are looking forward to in the comments section below. Read more
The women’s lineup I previewed on Monday looks much the same as it did two years ago and today’s qualification showed the same players will be fighting it out. The men’s competition, on the other hand, features a fresh crop of athletes mixed in with some old familiar veterans. Highlighting it all will be a matchup I listed as the number one reason to watch the hammer in 2014: Pars vs. Fajdek. The Olympic champion Krisztian Pars will be making his fourth European Championship start while young 25-year old World Champion Pawel Fajdek will be making his debut. What looked like a great rivalry at the start of the season has only gotten better throughout the year.
Krisztian Pars (HUN)
Season Best/Personal Best: 82.49m (1st), Last EC/Best Finish: 1st
Pawel Fajdek (POL)
Season Best/Personal Best: 82.37m (2nd), Last EC/Best Finish: First Appearance
As said above, Pars might have the slight advantage when looking at the season so far, but Fajdek showed last year that this does not mean much. Heading into the World Championships Pars was the clear number one. But Fajdek unleashed a personal best to win convincingly. He’ll be looking find that type of peak again for another major title.
Marcel Lomnicky (SVK)
Season Best/Personal Best: 79.16m (3rd), Last EC/Best Finish: 11th
Libor Charfreitag, the champion from four years ago, will not be starting at this year’s edition. However Slovakia has another shot at a medal with young Marcel Lomnicky. Lomnicky has consistently improved since graduating from Virginia Tech and now finds himself in good position for his first international medal. Compared to his competitors his advantage is that he has thrown 77 to 79 meters at nearly every meet this year and finished on the podium at several IAAF Hammer Challenge events. Only once in eleven competitions has he been beaten by more than two Europeans this year.
Primoz Kozmus (SLO)
Season Best/Personal Best: 77.44m (8th), Last EC: Did not compete, Best Finish: 6th (2006)
As former World and Olympic champion, it surprising that Kozmus has never placed higher than sixth at the European Championship. But it has actually been eight years since he last competed. Kozmus has a very slow start to the season and competed sparingly, but is slowly finding form and threw 77.44 meters late in July. With his competitive experience and history of peaking at the right time, he is the biggest threat to Lomnicky’s medal chances.
Pavel Kryvitski (BLR)
Season Best: 79.21m (3rd), Personal Best: 80.67m, Last EC/Best Finish: 9th
Kryvitski is the top ranked Belorussian this year, but has faced trouble in qualification rounds at past major championships. But his last few international meets this year have produced 75 to 77 meter results, which would put him in a good position if replicated in Zurich.
Sergey Litvinov Jr. (RUS)
Season Best/Personal Best: 78.77m (5th), Last EC/Best Finish: First Appearance
Always a threat, Litvinov seemed to be on the right path with some great spring marks and superb wins at Fränkisch-Crumbach and the European Team Championships in June. But since that he has been a few meters down, and could be be a few meters less than required for a medal.
Serghei Marghiev (MDA)
Season Best/Personal Best: 78.27m (6th), Last EC/Best Finish: First Appearance
The youngest thrower in the field is also one of the biggest wildcards. Having just turned 22 this summer, Marghiev seems to have reached a new level. When he threw a personal best of 78 meters in Chi?in?u this spring, I didn’t think much of it. His top six marks all came from the Moldovan capital and his best mark outside the country was five meters less. But back to back wins over 76 meters at the European Team Championships lower division and Balkan Championships show he is now an international threat too.
Others to WatchThe rest of the field is quite bunched together and should be packed around 72 to 75 meters in qualifying, which is right around where the historic cut off to make finals is. This should make for an exciting qualification Thursday morning.
While many of the throwers I mentioned above have little European Championships experience, the opposite is the case for 41 year old Nicola Vizzoni of Italy and 38 year old Szymon Ziolkowski of Poland. Both will be competing at their sixth championship and both bring experience: Vizzoni won silver in 2010 and Ziolkowski bronze in 2012. While they may no longer be battling for the podium, their consistency and experience should earn them another spot in the finals.
Another name to look for further down the results is mine, Martin Bingisser. In case you haven’t been following this site, I will be making my major championships debut. Finals will require a whole new level, but a personal best and top 20 finish is a definite possibility.
The track in Zurich has gained the nickname piste magique, the magic track, for no small reason. The annual Weltklasse Zurich meet is know as the best one-day meet in the world for its enthusiastic sell-out crowds and more than 20 world records set in the stadium. With a new fast ring and the same energetic atmosphere, it could be the perfect atmosphere for another world record. The top female hammer throwers have been flirting with the 80-meter barrier for a while. Both the world leader and world record holder will be battling not only for gold this week, but also to be the first to break the landmark barrier. In any event, it should be one of the most exciting competitions of the meet. Qualifying takes place Wednesday morning, with the top 12 moving on to Friday’s finals. A live stream for the hammer will be available online in certain countries from Eurovision.
Anita Wlodarczyk (POL)
Season Best: 78.17m (1st), Personal Best: 78.46m (2014), Last EC/Best Finish: 1st
When defending Olympic and World Champion Tatyana Lysenko announced an early end to her season, what was a three-woman race for the European title suddenly became a two person race and Wlodarczyk became the clear favorite. The former world record holder was ranked first in the world last year and she is by far the most consistent of the world’s elite hammer throwers. This year she has competed only four times, but won three and is just under her personal best. She split her two matchups with her closest competitor Heidler, but as returning champion she will likely have more confidence and a good throw in the early rounds could secure her the win.
Betty Heidler (GER)
Season Best: 78.00m (2nd), Personal Best: 79.42m (2012), Last EC: 3rd, Best Finish: 1st (2010)
After a slow start to the year she seemed to find her groove with a world lead of 78 meters in June, but then at the German championships last month she again fell back below 70 meters. This was not the first time her inconsistency has shown up. Heidler won the European title in 2010, but it was the next edition where the problems first arose in a major way. At the 2012 European Championships she threw just 65 meters, a performance her coach described as “Psychoterror, Katastrophe, Kindergartenfehler.” Since then she has been quite inconsistent, winning an Olympic medal but then failing to make the finals at last year’s World Championships. Heidler has a big chance to win again, but it depends on which Heidler shows up on Wednesday. Wednesday’s qualifying round will tell a lot about her prospects.
Kathrin Klaas (GER)
Season Best: 74.62m (4th), Personal Best: 76.05m (2012), Last EC/Best Finish: 4th (2012)
After throwing her personal best in the Olympic final, Klaas started the next Olympic cycle fresh last year with a new coach. After a slow first year, it is starting to pay dividends as she has produced one of her most consistent season’s this year. She lost six times in six meets to her German rival Heidler last year, but in five matchups this year she has won three. She has also taken down other top European names and looks in good position to make the podium.
Martin Hrasnova (SVK)
Season Best: 75.27m (3rd), Personal Best: 76.90m (2009), Last EC/Best Finish: 2nd (2012)
After a down year last year, Hrasnova has returned to form with several strong performances this summer. She has secured wins against Orban and Bulgakova, split against Fiodorow, and lost several times to Klaas. She will likely have to beat Klaas to get on the podium, which will be difficult, but within her reach.
Anna Bulgakova (RUS)
Season Best: 74.16m (6th), Personal Best: 76.17m (2013), Last EC/Best Finish: 3rd (2012)
The fourth-ranked European from last season is surprisingly the sole Russian in the field. She started the season with a slow spring, but had a strong July and looks near the form that placed her fifth at last year’s World Championships and put her on the podium at the last European Championships.
Joanna Fiodorow (POL)
Season Best/Personal Best: 74.39m (5th), Last EC/Best Finish: First Appearance
At first it was unclear if Fiodorow was actually going to compete. She was not named to the official team from Poland, but she was included on the final entries list. But now that she is confirmed on the Polish team it is clear that she will be one of the top medal candidates. After a down year last year she has returned to the form that made her a 2012 Olympic finalist. So far in 2014 she has hit a new personal best, won the the European Cup Winter Throwing, and found consistency over 71-72 meters.
Others to Watch
Americans looking for a connection to the meet might look at some of the former NCAA stars competing. Hungary’s Eva Orban was an NCAA champion at the University of Southern California in 2008 and could place very high after making the World Championship final last summer. Sweden’s Ida Storm just finished her career as a multiple-time All American at UCLA and Nicole Lomnicka of Slovakia was the 2010 NCAA Champion while throwing for the University of Georgia. Lomnicka’s brother is a medal favorite in the men’s competition and if she qualifies for the finals it would be a rare instance of two siblings qualifying for the finals. This would be the first time to my knowledge in the hammer throw.
One of the youngest competitors at the entire meet will be participating in the women’s hammer throw: Reka Gyuratz. At just 18 years old, the young Hungarian is fresh off of a silver at the World Junior Championships. Last season she won the World Youth Championships and set a new world under-18 all-time best.
Another big name in the field is Aksana Miankova of Belarus, the 2008 Olympic champion. But her shape so far this season has shown no signs that she is ready to return to the podium.
Before the Olympics I looked at what it would take to make the Olympic finals. In the end, despite an A standard of 78 meters, it took a throw of 74.69 meters to make the cut. That may seem low, but it was right in line with the historic level. With the European Championships taking place in less than a month, I thought I would work with British statistician Ian Tempest to look at what it will likely take to make the finals in Zurich.
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With a little more than a day until the shot put action kicks off, I finally was able to put the finishing touches of my men’s throws guide for the 2014 USATF Championships. The women’s guide I posted last week was fairly easy to prepare as is a clear favorites in all four throwing events. Not a single men’s throwing event, on the other hand, has a clear frontrunner. Even making a short list of who could possibly win is impossible in each event. But I’ve tried to narrow it down for you all. The only thing guaranteed is that there will be a surprise this week and it will be entertaining even if the throwing events are being relegated to outside the stadium.
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It’s less than a week until the US Championships begin in Sacramento. With no world championship to qualify for this year, some big names might be missing from other events. But for throwers it is business as usual. All of the top American throwers will be there. Even without a spot on Team USA up for grabs, they will be fighting for bragging rights, bonuses, and personal bests.
USATF will be streaming the meet online for free. You can watch it live online here.
The month of May traditionally marks the start of the international season. The top North American throwers have already started to knock off the dust and the IAAF Hammer Challenge kicks off next weekend in Tokyo. Ready or not, the season is starting.
Some view this as a lost year as there is no World Championship or Olympics. For American athletes it could indeed be hard to find a challenge, but there is plenty to look forward to this year. As is my annual tradition now, here are ten of the things I am most looking forward to. Feel free to leave a comment below about what you are looking forward to this season as a fan of the sport at any level.