March 26, 2008
Hammer Throw Introduction
This event, born of ancient traditions, initially took the form of a free style run from which a rigid hammer was thrown (a wooden handle with a cast iron ball on the end).
Following this, the current seven foot (2.13m) diameter circle was introduced. In 1887 the weight of the hammer was fixed at 16 pounds (7.26kg) with a wire, of between 1.175m and 1.215m in length attached to a grip, replacing the wooden handle. The throwing style most often used involves three (or four) rotations around the load bearing foot in a heel-toe-heel sequence.
The utilisation of a concrete base for throwing increased the possible speed of rotation and the use of wolfram and tungsten for the head of the hammer - thereby reducing the diameter (minimum today is 110mm) - helped increase the distances thrown from the 1950s.
The first recorded women’s marks date back to 1931 in Spain but it was only as recently as 1982 that anyone threw even 40m. The hammer used weighs 4kg (same as the shot) and the IAAF began ratifying women’s world records in 1995. The event attained senior World Championship status from 1999 and made its Olympic bow in Sydney.
First over 60m: 61.20 Aya Suzuki JPN 1989
First over 65m: 65.40 Olga Kuzenkova RUS 1992
First official world record: 66.84 Olga Kuzenkova 1994
First over 70m: 71.22 Olga Kuzenkova 1997
First over 75m: 75.97 Mihaela Melinte ROM 1999
Click here for ALL-TIME lists
Most competitions over 72m: Mihaela Melinte 22 (as at 7 Sep 2000)
First world champion: Mihaela Melinte 1999.
Most World titles - Yipsi Moreno CUB 2001/2003
Olga Kuzenkova (RUS): The inaugural world record holder with 66.84m in 1994, Kuzenkova was the fledgling event’s trail blazer and was first to reach 70m officially in 1997. Silver medallist in both 1999 and 2001 World Championships and at 2000 Olympic Games, and European champion in 2002.
First official world record: 57.77 Pat Ryan USA 1913
First over 60m: 60.34 József Csérmák HUN 1952
First over 200ft: 61.25 Sverre Strandli NOR 1952
First over 70m: 70.33 Hal Connolly USA 1960
First over 75m: 75.48 Anatoliy Bondarchuk URS 1969
First over 80m: 80.14 Boris Zaychuk URS 1978
First over 85m: 86.34 Yuriy Sedykh URS 1984
Click here for ALL-TIME lists
Most durable world record: 57.77 Pat Ryan 1913 (24 years)
Most competitions over 80m: Yuriy Sedykh 77
Most Olympic titles: 3 John Flanagan USA 1900/1904/1908
Most World titles:
2 Sergey Litvinov URS 1983/1987
2 Andrey Abduvaliyev TJK 1993/1995
Youngest Olympic/World champion: József Csérmák 1952 (20) Oldest: Yuriy Sedykh 1991 (36)
Three all time greats
John Flanagan (USA): The Irish-born American completed a hat trick of Olympic titles and set nineteen world bests between 1895 and 1909.
Pat Ryan (USA): Another of the Irish-Americans who dominated the early years of the event, his 57.77m in 1913 went unbeaten until 1937. He was Olympic champion in 1920.
Yuriy Sedykh (URS): World record holder on and off since 1980, he has 21 individual throws over 85m to his name and was Olympic champion in 1976 and1980.
Is it for me?
Throwing the hammer is an exercise that dates back to ancient times, but for a long time it only attracted a minority of athletes who were big, bulky and vigorous. Today, the reign of the giants is over and the hammer attracts champions with a sturdy physique, perfect technique and a full range of athletic qualities - speed, relaxation, strength and suppleness. In this event, success depends upon how resistant the thrower is to centrifugal force, and hence to the pull of the hammer, when spinning at great speed within the hammer circle. Hammer throwers may seem like convicts riveted to their ball and chains, but they can break free at will.