Tomorrow the World Anti-Doping Agency will release the McLaren Report, which will provide a detailed look at allegations that arose in May regarding systemic cheating by Russia to win medals at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. While the main focus is on winter sports, it is expected that the report will take a broader look at Russian doping practices across many sports. These allegations will no doubt be used by the IAAF in defending its decision to ban Russia track and field team from the 2016 Olympics. Russia no doubt is doing things wrong, but don’t let us be distracted from the fact that the IAAF is equally culpable. The IAAF needs to implement major changes if track and field has any chance of being cleaned up. Read more
Earlier this morning Sergej Litvinov was informed by the IAAF that his application for exceptional eligibility to compete at the 2016 Olympics was declined along with 66 other athletes. (The rejection did not address all of the grounds for exception raised in Litvinov’s 13-page application, and we are in further communication with them to clarify these points.) In reading through the decision, some initial social media reactions, and media reports it is clear that the big picture is being overlooked. With that in mind, I’ve put together a primer on the topic that helps put the Russia doping issue in context. Read more
Editor’s Note: Last week the IAAF announced that the Russian athletics team will not be eligible to compete in the upcoming Olympic Games due systemic doping issues. Sergej Litvinov is the Russian champion in the hammer throw and placed 5th at last year’s World Championships. This week he wrote the following letter to Lord Sebastian Coe, President of the IAAF, asking what he can personally do to compete again.
Dear Lord Coe,
When it was announced that the Russian team will be banned from the upcoming Olympics last week, the common reaction here in Russia was denial mixed with anger. Many top athletes and officials continue to deny the scope of the problem and are angry that Russia is being singled out while similar issues exist in many places across the world.
I am not in denial. Read more
After publishing our annual women’s rankings on Sunday we are following it up with the men’s rankings today. While there was no men’s world record this year, the season has some great performances and battles. The field was closely packed together which should also make for an exciting Olympics next summer. Read more
Last weekend we held our first weekend training camp for the Swiss hammer throwers. As part of the Swiss hammer project we gathered together the top athletes and coaches for a chance to learn from each other and have a bit of fun. Even though I get to work with my throwers all the time, they benefited a lot too. Having a weekend focused only on hammer let us take a step back and analyze a few things we have overlooked. Read more
Last week we started off the year-end review with a look at the top 10 women of 2014. We’ll continue with the men today which was even closer and more exciting than last year. The greatest rivalry in track and field right now in track and field is the men’s hammer throw. Krisztian Pars and Pawel Fajdek face off nearly every week during the season and it is a toss up who will win. It was literally a toss up as the average margin of victory was less than 10 centimeters (four inches). Read more
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.
Back in February I launched a new series on this site, the Coaching Roundtable, by inviting three of the world’s best coaches to analyze the technique of top US thrower Chris Cralle. Now it’s back for the second edition with an up and coming international thrower. Once again the Coaching Roundtable series brings together top coaches from the around the world to give their different perspectives on the same topic. Subjects for the coaching roundtable are chosen exclusively among members of this site. I plan on doing a rotational shot put roundtable in the near future as well as another men’s hammer roundtable, so if you are a member looking for an analysis of yourself or your athlete , please contact me.
Julia Ratcliffe was born and raised in New Zealand and started hammer throwing under the guidance of her father, Dave Ratcliffe. On her 19th birthday last year Ratcliffe threw a senior national record and Oceania junior record of 67.00 meters at the World Junior Championships in Barcelona. Her mark earned her fourth place and was the best mark ever to miss the podium at the meet. This September she enrolled at Princeton University in America where she has continued her success. In April she broke her national record again with a throw of 68.80 meters and was one of the top throwers in the NCAA as just a freshman this season.
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.
Don Babbitt is of the most successful throwing coaches in the world over the past decade. Coach Babbitt works as the throwing coach at the University of Georgia for sixteen years in which his athletes captured 11 NCAA titles, and 55 All-American certificates. Chris Hill (javelin) and Jenny Dahlgren (hammer) also set NCAA records under his guidance. In addition, he has worked with athletes like Adam Nelson (shot put), Reese Hoffa (shot put), Breaux Greer (javelin), Jason Dunks (discus), Brad Snyder (shot put), Andras Haklits (hammer) and many other international champions.
Sergej Litvinov Jr. is one of the top active hammer throwers in the world with a personal best of 80.98 meters. He placed fifth at 2009 World Championships and now competes for Russia. He is coached by his father, Sergey Litvinov, who was a world record holder, two-time world champion, Olympic champion, and Olympic silver medalist. He still ranks third all-time with his personal best of 86.04 meters.
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
Throwing light and heavy hammers should be a major part of hammer throw training. But in addition to playing around with different weights, many throwers also add variety to the length of the hammer. This is another way to add variety to training, but one method I am not a fan of.
In most of Western Europe, short hammers and heavy hammers go hand in hand. I have never met a Swiss or German coach that has thrown a normal length 10-kilogram hammer for men, and few that even utilize a normal length 9-kilogram. The theory is that heavy hammers can develop bad technical habits, but shortening a heavy hammer makes the hammer feel lighter and easier for the athlete to throw with proper technique.