Spikes02 Sep 2014

King of throws



We always knew that the hammer was an awesome event, but with the help of Switzerland’s main hammer-man Martin Bingisser we give you five reasons why the hammer is king.

1. Hammer power

From a purely scientific perspective we have the proof: hammer = power.

Aerospace engineer Zach Hazen, a passionate hammer thrower himself, explained to Bingisser why the hammer has the most power amongst most known throwing implements. Bingisser says: “More kinetic energy is imparted to the hammer than any other throwing implement he [Hazen] analysed” – and he looked at a quite a few.

The kinetic energy of an object is the energy it possesses because of its motion,” Bingisser, who runs his own training website, explains for the less physics-savvy amongst us. “This may sound like a little convoluted claim to fame, but as Hazen puts it, energy is everything.”

Kinetic Energy Hammer

Zach Hazen charts the kinetic energy in various thrown projectiles

“Balls in sports like golf travel much faster than the hammer, reaching speeds of 80 or 90 metres per second [approximately 190 mph] compared to around 30 metres per second [approximately 67 mph] for the world record in the [men’s] hammer.

“But the advantage for the hammer throw comes from the weight of the implement. Since the [men's] hammer weighs 7.26 kilograms, it takes a lot more energy to get it moving that fast, and compared to other heavy throwing sports, the hammer throw is much faster.”

2. It just keeps getting better

While some events have stagnated over the years, the women’s hammer has seen major improvements in distances. Four women have thrown well beyond the 78 metre mark between 2011 and 2014; 17 of the best ever throws happened in the last five years – and the women’s hammer world record is less than a week old.

Watch Anita Wlodarczyk break Betty Heidler’s world record at Sunday's ISTAF Berlin (complete with a French commentator going beserk):

3. Headspinning performances

If only broadcasters could cover the hammer throw like this, it could make prime-time television.

4. Day out on the river

The Karlstad Grand Prix, which forms part of the IAAF Hammer Throw Challenge, has turned into a pioneering event, as athletes attempt to hurl their throwing implements from one bank to the other of the Klarälven River. Each year, new fans pack the riverbanks and bridge to follow the spectacle.

5. Moon landing

In 1972, and as part of the Apollo 17 mission, American geologist and NASA astronaut Harrison H. 'Jack' Schmitt, while on the surface of the moon, couldn’t resist the challenge of throwing his (geology) hammer off into the distance.

He may not have had an IAAF certified hammer at hand, and his technique looks more like a discus attempt to us, be he gets bonus points for taking track and field up to a new atmosphere.

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