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The may be smiling now, but come Saturday it will be all business.

2014 European Championships Preview: Men’s Hammer Throw

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.

→ Related Content: check out our analysis of what it will take to reach the finals in Zurich.

The Favorites

Krisztian Pars (HUN)
Season Best/Personal Best: 82.49m (1st), Last EC/Best Finish: 1st

The may be smiling now, but come Saturday it will be all business.

The may be smiling now, but come Saturday it will be all business.

Unlike the top sprinters, Pars and Fajdek are not afraid to face each other. They have already faced each other seven times this year and so far Pars has the upper hand with four wins and a better season’s best. However when you look closer you see it is a toss up. The average margin of victory was just 70 centimeters. In their last matchup two weeks ago Fajdek won by just 10 centimeters. And their season’s bests are just 12 centimeters apart. You couldn’t ask for a better storyline and rivalry. I can’t wait. Qualification takes place on Friday with the top 12 moving on to Saturday’s finals. A live stream for the hammer will be available online in certain countries from Eurovision.

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.

The Contenders

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 Watch

At age 41, Vizzoni is still a perennial finalist. He is also running for a spot on the European Athletics Athletes' Commission.

At age 41, Vizzoni is still a perennial finalist. He is also running for a spot on the European Athletics Athletes’ Commission.

The 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.

→ Continue the Conversation: Share your thoughts on the men’s hammer in the Throwholics forum.

→ Related Content: in-depth European Championships historical statistics from Track and Field News and Ken Nakamura.

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.

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.

If you are interested in an overview of the other throwing events, check out the House Of Run Podcast where I previewed all of the throwing events a few weeks ago. Jesse Squire of the Daily Relay has also put togehter a short overview of the men’s throwing events.
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litvinov

Ask Martin Vol. 21: Favorite Technique

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. Read more

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

Are 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. And feel free to comment below with what you are looking forward to in 2013.


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. Read more

Chris Cralle

Coaching Roundtable: Chris Cralle Video Analysis

This is the first post in the new Coaching Roundtable series, which 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

Chris Cralle
Chris Cralle seemed to come out of nowhere last year with a personal best of 74.36 meters to place second at the U.S. Olympic Trials. While he was off of most people’s radar before the meet, he still had a strong resume including NCAA All-American honors while attending Sam Houston State University and a gold medal at the 2010 NACAC Under-23 Championships. Since graduating in 2011, he has continued to live in Huntsville, Texas where he is self-coached, although he does seek occasional advice primarily from coaches Freddie Hannie and Shaun McGinley. Cralle started throwing hammer just before starting college at age 18, and just turned 24 days before the Olympic Trials.

The Coaches

Michael Deyhle is the German national coach, as well the coach at the Eintracht Frankfurt club where he guides women’s world record holder Betty Heidler.

Derek Evely served most recently as Director of the UK Athletics Loughborough National Performance Centre. In addition, he has guided several hammer throwers including Sophie Hitchon, who at age 21 set a national record to become the youngest Olympic finalist last summer. Evely is strongly influenced by Anatoliy Bondarchuk, who he recruited to and worked alongside with in Kamloops, Canada.

Vladimir Kevo is the former Yugoslavia national champion in the hammer throw who is best known for guiding Primož to Olympic and World Championships in 2008 and 2009. Since then, Kevo has continued to train a small group of throwers in Brežice, Slovenia including European Junior Champion and World Junior Championships runner-up Barbara Špiler.
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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.

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.


1. Krisztian Pars (HUN) – While picking Pars as number one last year might have been a litte controversial, he is the clear number one this year. After years of frustration he not only won his first international title, but he did so twice by utterly dominating the competition at both the European Championships and Olympics. He won 15 or 16 finals and had seven of the nine best marks of the year (seven of the best eight if you excluding Tikhon). His season’s best of 82.28 meters might not rank him among the all-time greats, but even non-throwers agree his season was one of the best in track and field this year.
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file

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.
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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

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

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 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 likely not to be the best adults. Read more

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.


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

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.
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Kozmus

Training Talk with Primoz Kozmus

Olympic Champion Primoz Kozmus of Slovenia

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.


Returning to the Hammer Throw

Martin: It was a big surprise when you decided to retire after the 2009 season. You had set a new national record, won the world championship, and looked like you were ready for more success. What made you decide to retire? And then what made you change your mind last year and come back?

Primož: It was not easy to say goodbye to sport. But I had enough of sport’s discipline and hard trainings. I needed some rest. I wanted to live normal life. But after a few months I had enough of normal life. I was missing competitions; the adrenaline when I step into the circle. But I am happy that I took a break. In the off-year I got married, had a daughter, opened a hostel where I have big hammer throw plans. Now I am back and full of motivation to throw hammer far again.
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