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Hammer Throwing: An Overview

Hammer throwing is one of the most exciting sports in history. Serious physical strength is required for hammer throwers to win. Let’s admit it, the dangers the sport entails also make it more thrilling to watch.

Aside from the thrills and excitement hammer throwing brings, it also has a rich history which is believed to have started in around 2000 BC, in England. Hammer throw officially became a part of sports competitions in Ireland, Scotland and England in 1866. It has been recognized as a part of the Olympic Games in 1900. Hammer throwing for women, on the other hand, was added to the Olympics a hundred years after that.

The sport has, of course, evolved since its discovery. Nonetheless, its popularity remains unchanged, if not increased.

Yes, strong contenders are needed to be able to do hammer throws. Strong grip is also an important factor in hammer throwing. Aside from these, intense mental focus is also required. While these are common elements are also needed in many sports, hammer throwing is unlike any other sport. It is highly technical because factors such as endurance, speed, balance, and timing are also essential for the perfect throw to be executed. It’s very hard to predict who will deliver the best throw and win. Strength alone does not guarantee victory.

Hammer throwing can be very dangerous that’s why the sport is performed inside a circle made of iron band with a diameter of 2.135m. The hammer’s length and weight is different for men and women. Men’s hammers weigh 16 pounds and are 121.5cms in length while women’s hammers are 8.8 pounds and are 119.5cms long. The thrower with the farthest throw within 34.92 degrees wins.

Even just from an audience’s perspective, it’s easy to see that the sport is no joke and is definitely not easy. Just throwing an average-weighing object as far as you can is a challenge; imagine how hard it is to throw a 16-pound steel ball with correct speed, perfect balance, and accurate timing to ensure distance. The difficulty of hammer throwing makes it understandable why the sport gains popularity through the years.

Origins Of The Hammer Throw

The origins of the hammer throw can be traced back centuries ago in the British Isles, where legends place it in the Tailteann Games which were held in Ireland in about 2000BC. Cu Chulainn, who was a Celtic hero, was reported to have gripped the axle of a chariot wheel, before whirling it around his head, thus allowing him to throw it much further than the other competitors.

Throwing a boulder which had been attached to a wooden handle later replaced wheel hurling. Other reports of hammer throwing can be traced to ancient Teutonic tribes during religious festivals. This was practiced in honor of the God Thor. During the 15th and 16th centruy, sledgehammer throwing was often performed in England and Scotland.

In terms of track and field competition, the hammer throw has been seen since 1866 in England, Scotland and Ireland. In 1875, the event was standardized by using a hammer which was 7.2kg in weight and 1067.5mm in length and by adding the requirements that it must be thrown from a circle 2.135m (7 feet) in diameter.

In terms of the Olympic Games, the hammer throw event was first introduced in 1900 for men although the women’s hammer event had to wait until 2000 before its introduction. The early hammers utilized wooden handles with forged-iron heads however it is now required by the IAAF that a wire-handled spherical weight be used.

The ball is usually comprised of iron or another metal that is not softer than brass or it can be filled with lead or other suitable material.

Spring steel wire is used to make the hand, with one end attaching to the handle and the other attaching to the ball. A ball bearing swivel and a loop is used to attach the ends.

For safety of spectators and officials a C-shaped cage encloses the throwing circle.

In terms of hammer throwing technique, a thrower will make either three or four, quick turns of the body before releasing the weight. If you have ever seen it performed it clearly requires a lot of balance, strength and timing. The athlete must remain inside of the throwing circle and the hammer must land within the 40 degree sector marked on the field otherwise the throw will not count.