Australian thrower Matt Denny in action in the hammer (© Getty Images)
The 2015 IAAF Hammer Throw Challenge gets under way on Saturday (21) at the Melbourne IAAF World Challenge meeting, which also serves as the opening competition of that series.
It is an entirely appropriate venue for the hammer challenge opener, which thereafter wends its way around the world to a conclusion in Rieti some six months later on 13 September.
Albert Park, venue for the Melbourne meeting, borders the suburb of South Melbourne. Hammer thrower Dick Leffler, who won 12 of 15 national championships from 1959 to 1973, competed for the South Melbourne club for many years and his family business was based in Albert Park. So hammer throw has a historical connection to the area.
The future will be of greater concern in the hammer throw at this year’s Melbourne meeting, with two promising juniors in the field.
Matt Denny has already made his mark in global age-group competition, winning the discus at the IAAF World Youth Championships in Donetsk two years ago. He is pushing up towards the 70-metre mark with the senior hammer, reaching 68.59m so far this year.
Ned Weatherly will be in the hammer throw at this year’s World Youth Championships in Cali, having clinched a spot at last weekend’s Australian Junior Championships. The 17-year-old has a best of 62.32m with the senior implement.
The 2015 IAAF Hammer Throw Challenge has been set a high benchmark by its 2014 counterpart.
Poland’s Anita Wlodarczyk crowned last year’s challenge with a world record of 79.58m in Berlin; a performance which led to her being nominated for the World Athlete of the Year.
With the points in the challenge calculated on the basis of the total of an athlete’s best three throws in the series, Wlodarczyk amassed 232.52 points, well ahead of German duo Betty Heidler (228.54) and Kathrin Klaas (222.65).
For the third year in a row, Hungary’s Krisztian Pars and Poland’s Pawel Fajdek occupied the top two placings in the men’s challenge, though the margin of more than three points in Pars’ favour was a lot more comfortable than the previous year when Fajdek edged to victory.
Pars breached the 80-metre mark in all three of his scoring competitions. The Olympic champion won at two of those, throwing 81.57m to win in Ostrava and a season’s best of 82.49m to take out the event in Szekesfehervar.
World champion Fajdek had the upper hand in Rieti, winning with 81.11m to Pars’ 80.78m.
Tajikistan’s Dilshod Nazarov was third in the overall standings, just 0.12 behind Fajdek, while African record-holder Mostafa Al-Gamel was fourth.
Since the series began in 2010, the winning score in the men’s contest has improved year-on-year with Pars’ tally of 244.84 (Fajedk 241.49, Nazarov 241.37) being the best to date.
After Melbourne, there is a gap of almost two months to the second meeting in the IAAF Hammer Throw Challenge at the Seiko Golden Grand Prix meeting in Kawasaki, Japan, on 10 May. The series remains in Asia for the third leg at the Beijing IAAF World Challenge meeting in the Bird’s Nest Stadium on 20 May before hopping across to Puerto Rico for the Ponce Grand Prix three days later.
The series then moves to Europe for the first time at the Ostrava Golden Spike meeting on 26 May. Another short break follows with the challenge touching into northern Africa in Rabat on 14 June.
Then it is Brazil’s turn with the Grande Premio Brasil Caixa De Atletismo in Belem on 25 June before returning to Europe at three traditional meetings – Turku’s Paavo Nurmi Games (25 June), the Istvan Gyulai Memorial (Szekesfehervar, 7 July) and Moscow’s Znamensky Memorial (18 July) in the final run-up to the IAAF World Championships in Beijing on 22-30 August.
A fortnight later it is back to Europe for the 2015 challenge finale at the Rieti meeting on 13 September.
There will be a total of US$8500 in prize money for each event (men and women) in the series and a total of US$213,000 distributed to the top 12 finishers in the series overall as follows:
1st place: 30,000
2nd place: 20,000
3rd place: 15,000
4th place: 12,500
5th place: 8000
6th place: 6000
7th place: 4500
8th place: 4000
9th place: 3000
10th place: 2000
11th place: 1000
12th place: 500
Len Johnson for the IAAF