With just a few days left in 2014 it is time to reflect on the year. The first stop is the women’s hammer. Highlighted by a world record and thrilling European Championships final, the women’s hammer was one of the most exciting events of 2014. But as was the case last year, it was not easy to complete the rankings since the rest of the field traded wins back and forth all year. The final rankings are entirely subjective, but I do place higher weight on head-to-head competition as opposed to marks alone as beating an opponent is the best judge that you are better than them. Therefore some picks might be controversial, so make your case in the comments below if you disagree. In addition, Zhang Wenxiu was not included in the rankings following her positive test at the Asian Games. Read more
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.
It’s been a busy weekend. Over the past 48 hours I have competed twice and racked up nearly 600 miles on our rental car. I’ve competed at one of the best speciality meets in the world, won the hammer throw and a watch at the only Swiss Meeting that includes it, caught up with many friends, and returned home with enough time to do laundry before I have to return to work tomorrow. It was exhausting, but it was fun.
The first big event of the weekend was the Fränkisch-Crumbach international hammer meet in Germany. This is my fifth year at the event, which packs thousands of fans into the town park to gossip, grab a beer, and, of course, watch hammer throwing. I’ve written about how great the meet is every year, so there is little to add this year. Once again the meet management and fans did not let me down and I tied for my my highest ever finish at the meet.
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
In an Olympic year, naturally many of the highlights came from London. But there were many more great stories throughout the season. Here is a selection of the top hammer throwing stories from the 2012 season, both good and bad.
Last evening the Olympics officially came to a close, but not after ten days of exciting athletics action. From David Rudisha’s solo 800m world record to 19-year old Keshorn Walcott surprise victory in the men’s javelin, the week was full of amazing feats, surprises, as well as some disappointments. The hammer throw was no exception. Here are five thoughts I have on the hammer throw in London after watching the greatest show on earth.
1. The atmosphere was electric
When I approached Olympic stadium on the first morning of athletics, I was expecting a somewhat groggy crowd interspersed with empty blocks of seats. After all, the morning sessions rarely receive a capacity audience to watch various qualifying rounds. But as I made it up to my seat not only was the stadium packed, but they all had arrived earlier than me. The sold out crowd of 80,000 fans watched impatiently as 40 shot putters slowly progressed through qualifying and 35 women’s triple jumpers meandered into the stadium. And they were enjoying it more than me. Their energy spiked, however, at the sight of British heptathlon champion Jessica Ennis; when her name was announced and again as she crossed the finish line the volume would have blown off the roof it their had been one.
The energy continued throughout the session and throughout the week. The only thing I have witnessed comparable was perhaps a college football rivalry game, except the level of intensity in London was maintained for eight hours a day, ten days in a row. London brought an energy to this competition that made it one of the most memorable competitions in a generation for both the athletes and fans there. Athletes often complain that the world only pays attention to us every four years. It’s true, and it’s a valid complaint. But we also have to admit other competitions can rarely match this atmosphere. If track can somehow bring this energy to more competitions it would definitely spread its appeal. Read more
Get ready for the best women’s hammer throw competition of all time. On Wednesday, the top seven throwers of all time will step foot in the hammer ring at the London Olympic Stadium. This includes three throwers over 78 meters, eight throwers over 76.50 meters, and 11 over 75 meters! Not only will the throws likely be far, but the competition should be close as the front runners closely packed together through the season. Even the experts cannot agree on a favorite. Below you will find an overview of the competition format, profiles of the top athletes, start lists, 2012 performance lists, and predictions.
As my training camp came to a close yesterday, I couldn’t have been happier with the progress I made over 10 days and 16 training sessions. My season plan may have been interrupted by setbacks in May, but now I am in the best shape of my life. In addition to the personal best with the 9-kilogram hammer on Monday I had personal training bests with the competition weight 7.26-kilogram hammer on both Friday and Saturday. First I launched 67.30 meters (video below) and then came back the next day to toss 67.70 meters. I had only thrown over 67 meters twice in training before, but this week I had nearly a dozen throws at or over that distance and am capable of more.
For the fourth year in a row I ventured north for the memorable Fränksich-Crumbach Hammermeeting in small-town Germany. I’ve been explicit in stating that this is my favorite hammer meet around. Attendance looked a little higher at this year’s tenth edition of the meet, but the results were a little down and so was the excitement. I think everyone was expecting a world record and some mere international calibre results left them wanting; Betty Heidler defeated perhaps the best women’s field the meet has ever had, and Markus Esser convincingly won the men’s title. There is still just something unique about the meet. Nearly every one of the fans embraces the event in a way that makes the athletes feel like we have been adopted by a family. To take an example, I stepped into one of the local hotels to look for Sultana. I had never been there before, but as soon as I walked in the proprietor said: “You must be Mr. Bingisser.” He then explained to his wife that I had written a great article about Fränkisch-Crumbach on the internet.
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.