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Everyone agrees Pars (center) is the favorite. But everyone has different picks for the podium this year.

2013 World Championships Preview: Men’s Hammer Throw

Everyone agrees Pars (center) is the favorite. But everyone has different picks for the podium this year.As usual, the hammer throw will be starting off the action at this year’s world championships. The men’s qualifying round will take place on Saturday afternoon, where 29 athletes will battle to make it on to Monday’s 12 person final. Coming off of a dominant Olympic title, Krisztián Pars is the name to watch. On the one hand it might appear like he will have things easier this year since, as is expected after an Olympic year, the level of hammer throwing has receded slightly. This year saw just 11 throwers over 79 meters and 36 over 76 meters, compared with 16 and 47 throwers respectively in 2012. But on the other hand Pars is barely ahead of the competition. All of the top ten entrants have a season’s best within two meters of Pars. In other words, the competition should be close and the pressure will still be on Pars.

litvinov

Ask Martin Vol. 21: Favorite Technique

1988 Olympic Gold Medalist Sergey Litvinov is probably my favorite thrower to watch video of.Question: Which thrower’s technique do you like watching the most? – Gary

At the beginning of my career I watched video to learn. Now I watch video to help visualize my own throw. While throwers like Balazs Kiss, Igor Nikulin, or even Koji Murofushi have very good technique, their styles are so different than mine that they are lower down my list. Both then and now I tend to watch video that I hope to emulate and I list a few of my favorites below. You might notice that I do not mention any women below and this is for the same reason. Female throwers typically do not have, or need, the same amount of countering in their throw as men. Since I am trying to visualize myself in the throw it is easier to do that with a male thrower.

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.

Chris Cralle

Coaching Roundtable: Chris Cralle Video Analysis

After starting the Training Tools series last month, I am launching another new series this week. The new Coaching Roundtable series 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.

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.

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London Olympic Preview: Men’s Hammer Throw

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.

McCullough still has plenty of time to prove himself at the next level, while Henning has already left the sport.

Predicting Success of Young Champions

I mentioned earlier this week that talent can be hard to identify since it involves so many elements. Yesterday I thought of an even better example to prove this point. Other indicators may not work, but at least you would think that if a kid is good at throwing the hammer, then there is a high chance he will continue to be good. How much more specific of a test can you have than actually throwing the hammer? But after looking back at historical data, the facts don’t even back up this assumption. The best kids are more likely not to be the best adults.

We all know this is the case in America, but that is mostly due to the unique fact that most Americans do not even touch a hammer for the first time before they enroll in a university at age 19. Only one male (Conor McCullough) and one female (Kristin Smith) in the finals at last year’s US Championships had started throwing the hammer before college. But surprisingly this is also the case internationally even though the best international throwers begin training for the hammer at a much younger age.

The highlight of 2012 will no doubt be the Olympic Games in London.

10 Reasons to Watch the Hammer in 2012

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…

Kozmus

Training Talk with Primoz Kozmus

Since becoming the Olympic Champion in 2008, Primož Kozmus’ career has been on a roller coaster perhaps no other gold medalist has seen. Kozmus was overshadowed quickly as Krisztian Pars dominated early 2009, but Kozmus had a steadily peak and was back on top at the world championships, where he again won gold. Two weeks later his new national record of 82.58 meters seemed to remove any doubt that he was the top hammer thrower in the world. At the end of the year he was voted the top Slovenian athlete by national press for the third year in a row, but he surprised everyone including his coach by announcing his retirement. In a release to the media, he stated “I’ve reached my peak. It is time to say goodbye. Olympic and world champion is enough.”

Then, after a year away from the sport, he announced a comeback. His first meets back last season started off slowly at 75 and 72 meters. But he gradually improved throughout the season and by the end of the year he was again over 80 meters and had won the bronze medal at the world championships. Now he enters the Olympic year as one of the gold medal favorites. Compared to the other defending champions, his path has been far from easy. He had time recently to talk about his quest for another gold while last week while at his training camp in America.

Since becoming the Olympic Champion in 2008, Primož Kozmus’ career has been on a roller coaster perhaps no other gold medalist has seen. Kozmus was overshadowed quickly as Krisztian Pars dominated early 2009, but Kozmus had a steadily peak and was back on top at the world championships, where he again won gold. Two weeks later his new national record of 82.58 meters seemed to remove any doubt that he was the top hammer thrower in the world. At the end of the year he was voted the top Slovenian athlete by national press for the third year in a row, but he surprised everyone including his coach by announcing his retirement. In a release to the media, he stated “I’ve reached my peak. It is time to say goodbye. Olympic and world champion is enough.”

Then, after a year away from the sport, he announced a comeback. His first meets back last season started off slowly at 75 and 72 meters. But he gradually improved throughout the season and by the end of the year he was again over 80 meters and had won the bronze medal at the world championships. Now he enters the Olympic year as one of the gold medal favorites. Compared to the other defending champions, his path has been far from easy. He had time recently to talk about his quest for another gold while last week while at his training camp in America.

80 meters is close. Photo by Sergej Litvinov.

Looking Back on 2011: Best Moments in Hammer Throwing

I’ve ranked the top ten men. I’ve ranked the top ten women. But there are many moments that can’t be captured in athlete’s rankings. Throughout 2011 there were some great events in hammer throwing that were one-off occurrences or even something a non-thrower accomplishes. Below is a list of my favorite moments in hammer throwing from the past year.

1 – Heidler Smashes The World Record (and Nearly Breaks 80 Meters)

Since the women’s hammer throw debuted as an Olympic event in 2000, hammer throwers worldwide have been debating when the first woman will break 80 meters in the hammer throw. The world record was already at 76 meters and that led my first mentor, Harold Connolly, to think it would happen before 2004. Bondarchuk also thought it would happen sooner. Now, in 2011, Betty Heidler came painfully close to the barrier at Halle. This was hands down the top hammer throwing moment of 2011. Halle offers a unique atmosphere with thousands of fans showing up to just watch the throwing events. The environment produced magic once again as Heidler crushed the old world record and was less than two feet off the world record. Heidler continued her season with five more meets over 77 meters. At this level of consistency I think it is only a matter of time before one throw lands over the line.