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My most popular training talk was with Dan Pfaff, but I also sat down with many other great coaches.

Looking Back at 2013: Best Training Posts

A lot has changed on this site over the past year. Just before the year started I launched memberships to the site. At the start of 2013 I completely redesigned the site. In November I relaunched the site as HMMR Media and brought on board great content from Kibwé Johnson, Nick Garcia, and HSHammer.com. And to end the year we launched a store which includes custom hammer wires, premium memberships, books, and coaching. All the while our readership has grown, which makes all the work worthwhile. I started this site to help myself and others learn more. With more people joining in the conversation we all benefit.

Looking back at the year, I wrote about a lot of interesting topics. In years past my most popular posts tended to be about current events. But this year training was the popular topic:

But many more were my favorites. Below is a compilation of my favorite training posts from 2013.
A HMMR Media membership is required to read many of the articles, so if you haven’t joined yet it is a perfect way to start the new year.

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My 2013 Season in Review

JDF9SEPT-4973After taking two weeks off at the end of September, I have already jumped back into training for 2014 and the first week is now behind me. During my time off I took some time to reflect on the last season. Whether I make this public or not, this is something I do every year. Some things are more clear in hindsight than they were at the time and everyone must must learn from these moments in order to continue to improve in the future.

I had just two goals to start out the season. Unlike many athletes, I do not define my goals in terms of how far I want to throw or what place I want to finish. I simply identify what I need to do to get better and then focus on that. After the 2012 season I was physically in the best shape of my life but I couldn’t translate that into the throw. Therefore my first goal was clear: my technique needed to get better. My only other goal related to my priorities for competitions. Rather than trying to hit a peak for the Swiss Championships, I wanted to shift my peak to the Jeux de la Francophonie this year. Having a later peak allowed me more time to prepare and hopefully reach better performances. With those two goals I started out towards the 2013 season.

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Looking Back on 2012: Best Training Posts

The past year was a great one for my site. I saw my visitors increase more than 50 percent, but more importantly I wrote about some very interesting topics and learned a lot in the process. As 2013 starts, I thought it would be a good time to reflect on some of the top posts from the last year.

As you can see, many of the most popular posts were about upcoming meets and/or current events in the hammer throwing community. But my favorite posts are the ones that discuss technique and training. These are the posts I read over and over again and keep learning from. Below are is a collection of my favorite of these types of posts from 2012. A complete list of posts can be found here. While a few are free, a cheap and easy Mbingisser.com membership is required to read many of them.

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Training Talk With Juri Tamm (Part 3)

1816bb7f-0eef-4004-bd94-a358c0bac644After two lengthy posts earlier this week, we have finally arrived at the final part of my training talk with two-time Olympic medalist Jüri Tamm. In the first parts, Tamm discussed his own training and thoughts on the sport. In this final part, Tamm focuses on more inspirational matters including how he thinks any male thrower can break 70 meters and how his father was able to find a way to succeed in the pole vault despite having just one hand. Also at the very end you will find a video of his 82.12-meter throw to win the 1985 World Cup in Australia.


Martin: When was the last time you threw the hammer?

Jüri: 1996.

Martin: Not even for fun since then?

Jüri: Nope. My last competition of the season was around 74 meters and I said I was done.

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Training Talk With Juri Tamm (Part 2)

Earlier this week I posted the first part of my interview with two-time Olympic medalist Jüri Tamm. After talking about why hammer throw results have fallen off in the former Soviet nations and around the world, he proceeded to talk more about technique, talent identification in the Soviet Union, and his own training with his coach Dr. Anatoliy Bondarchuk. Come back later in the week to read the final part of our interview.


Martin: You also mentioned that the technique is not as good today. What do you think of as good technique? If you look at the top throwers even in your day, the technique varied quite a bit between throwers like you, Sedykh, and Litvinov even though you all were training in the same system.

Jüri: It is easy. If you would like to throw far, you have to accelerate the hammer. And to accelerate the hammer you have to have two legs on the ground as much as possible. If you stay on one leg is less power than combined two legs. These are basic questions for all throwers.

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Training Talk With Juri Tamm (Part 1)

The first two names that come to mind when you think about Soviet hammer throwing are Yuriy Sedykh, and Sergey Litvinov. Often overlooked on the podium is Jüri Tamm. Tamm, who also briefly held the world record, won the bronze medal at both the 1980 and 1988 Olympics and the silver at the 1987 World Championships. His personal best of 84.40 meters ranked third all-time during most of his career and still ranks in the top eight and is the Estonian national record nearly 30 years later. In summary, there is no reason he should be overlooked. If he threw in any other era he would have more gold medals and accolades than anyone in history.

Unlike Bondarchuk and Sedykh, who remain active as coaches, Tamm has drifted away from hammer throwing. Since retirement he has found success in business, politics, and sports administration. He served in the Estonian parliment for 12 years and also previously served as the vice president of the Estonian Olympic Committee. This year he began a new role as the chief of staff for world pole vault record holder Sergey Bubka. Bubka is the president of the Ukranian Olympic Committee, a vice president of the IAAF, and a member of the International Olympic Committee’s Executive Board. Tamm travelled with Bubka to a recent IOC meeting in Lausanne, where I had the chance to meet the legend in person and get him talking about the glory days for a few hours. The first part of the edited interview is below. Visit later in the week to read the rest.

Atop the podium in Basel. Photo by my coworker René Bettschen.

2011 Season Review

In reviewing my 2010 season, one of my main observations was that I did not build on each meet. Good meets were followed by bad meets and I never gained any momentum. Looking back at the 2011 season, the first thing I see is how I slowly built up my results throughout the course of the year. I reached three levels throughout the year. Level one, from March to early June, saw an average result of 62.57m in four meets (±30cm). Level two, during June and July, saw six meets averaging 64.95m (±66cm). Then, for my last meet, I improved to level three: a personal best of 67.90m. My technique was more stable and that allowed me to build on each meet.

Looking back at the 2011 season, I had some great accomplishments. But not everything went perfectly. As I begin to plan 2012, it is important to see what worked, what didn’t work, and where I can go from here. I already have a general plan for next season, but I will work out some more of the details when I visit Kamloops and sit down with Bondarchuk in a few weeks.

People search for some interesting things on Google.

My Newest Claim to Fame

I found out my newest claim to fame this weekend: my website is the second result listed on a Google search for “beer and chocolate diet.” Forget hammer throwing, I think I might write a book about a new fad diet.

It has been two years since I started to invest a lot of time in this website. Before then, I would write training updates once or twice a month to a handful of daily readers. For example I had 88 visitors before August 2009. Last month I had visitors more than 88 countries. It’s not that I’ve become more interesting. Hardly. It’s just that I found something more interesting to write about: others. For some reason, you all find it more interesting when I write about training methods, about the state of the hammer, and about the politics or other aspects of the event.

2010 Season Review

I was looking back at my review of last season today and it is eerily similar to how I feel about this season. However, the two years were world’s apart. I not only threw three meters further this year, but I was also more consistent and had almost ten meets over my season’s best from last year. But, as always, I want more.

The Good – Like I said above, I threw better than last year. Much better. The highlight of the season was another win at the national championships by a convincing margin. I finished more than fourteen meters ahead of the next Swiss thrower (Björn, a German citizen, also threw great for second place), which by my research is the largest margin of victory at a Swiss Championship. Training has also gone very well. I improved my special strength and set lots of training bests from the 5-kilogram hammer all the way up to the 10-kilogram hammer. If I can get that strength into the throw, I know it will produce something over 70-meters. My technique also improved this year, although it is still not where I want it to be.

It’s About the Athletes, Not the Medals

Take one look at Canadian freestyle skier Alex Bilodeau’s face today when the final results flashed on the scoreboard and showed his name in first place.  Take one look and you will immediately know what the Olympics are about: the athletes.  Bilodeau had the weight of the country on his shoulders.  Canada entered this Olympics in a unique position; it was the only country that had not won a gold medal while hosting multiple Games.  As a favorite on the second day of the games, many tapped  Bilodeau as a person that could break that streak.  And he did, reminding us in the process that as much as a country wants to succeed, these games really come down to individuals.  The Olympics are about those athletes that rise to the occasion and win.  And the Olympics are also about those athletes that weren’t even given the opportunity to compete.

A recent trend in track and field is for countries to not send every qualifying athlete to the Olympics.  In track and field, the IAAF sets the entry standards for the Olympics. However, several countries have set even higher standards for their own athletes.  Nowhere is this making more headlines than in the United Kingdom.  Charles van Commenee, the head coach of UK Athletics, has defended this decision by spewing clichés such as “No-one ever jumped higher by lowering the bar . . . these higher standards mean those selected will be expected to make finals not simply to compete. We are looking for contenders, not pretenders.”